Sunday, 12 December 2010

Christmas Is Coming

With a work night out on Friday, some people weren't thinking I had much chance of getting up on Saturday morning to help at the Scouts Christmas tree sale; and anyone seeing me later on that evening would probably have revised those chances to somewhat nil. However, I didn't want to let anyone down and I dragged myself out of bed at about 7:15 in order to get along the road in time to help unload the lorry - I had even had the forethought to save time in the morning by sleeping in my clothes, but that's another story.

By about 10:30, we had sold every one of the 75 trees we had along with a whole heap more raffle tickets, and made a decent little bundle of cash to help keep the roof over the heads of the Scout Group and all that remained was to help out with a few deliveries and get back to home for lunch.

Of course, one of the trees delivered was our one so the afternoon was spent getting the decorations down from the loft and decorating the tree; with "help" from the boys of course. It's always good fun, and nice to see all the home-made stuff get another airing - a good way to spend a cold afternoon.

Magnus had a great time, although I'm sure he knocked more baubles off than he actually got to stay attached to a branch.

Today was another early start; 7:30 for a 3 hour run with Dave and Mike - slippy on the ice but a good wee jaunt covering 17 miles. Vikki went out for a yearly-target-completing run in the afternoon, so the kids and I made mince pies and jammy tarts (because Calum doesn't like mince pies).

Yep, Christmas is just around the corner.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

A Walk In The Park - Part 2

Mid Camp
Mid-camp included the lodge (with log fire), portaloos, a cooking tent and the marquee which was heated by a gas burner which apparently had two settings, blast furnace and off, which led to an afternoon of jackets, hats and gloves being repeatedly put on and taken off. As more people arrived, there was much talk and eating of snack food going on and quite a few folk went off to nap until the food was served. I got chatting to a few different people, including Gary who seems to be doing a few of the same races as me next year. The supplied food was plentiful and tasted great, washed down with a cup of wine (great thinking from Bruce), and then it was time for some music and a couple of beers before heading back to Big Agnes and sleep. I managed not to die of hypothermia overnight but woke up early, went to the loo, then headed to the marquee for bacon rolls. Probably not ideal food to get ready for a day of fast-moving in the hills, but great-tasting all the same. Then it was time to strike the tent, pack up and get ready to go.

Day 2, Part 1 - 1:40000
Some fresh snow overnight and low cloud made for a tricky start to day 2 but we managed to pick up the first two controls without too much drama - we missed the next one by a good margin and lost some time having to double back to find it :( the next two were easy enough to find but involved a very steep descent and ascent (we could and possibly should have used less direct routes but where's the fun in that?) and then a nice wee run/walk back to the transition point to pick up the final map.

Day 2, Part 2 - 1:10000
Another short orienteering course which I think we handled reasonably well - the last control point was a little elusive at first, but we found it without losing too much time and set off for the finish. It was great to see the finish barrier, even better to hear a big shout from Polly who claims we looked like we'd just finished a "walk in the park" (which was sort of accurate since Bruce and I hadn't done a lot of actual running), and better yet to find out there was hot soup, rowies, and hot dogs available. Finding that I still had some dry clothes in my kit bag was another great bonus.

What a fun event. Well organised, fantastic location, friendly people, overall a great adventure. I really liked the feeling of choosing your own route, and loved the way that the different courses and start times meant that one minute you could feel completely alone, the next there could be any number of other competitors in sight heading in the same or completely different directions. From a personal performance point of view, I felt I was struggling for fitness which surprised me a bit. Navigation and route choices were OK but, with hindsight, could have been better so there's room for improvement.

If anyone's interested in kit, Big Agnes did a fine job but might be just too heavy if she had had to be carried. The Thermarest mat did its job and I slept comfortably enough - my old sleeping bag did OK but would be far too bulky and heavy to carry in a pack; possible replacements are being looked at - birthday present, anyone?. I spent the whole weekend (yes, the whole weekend) in tracksters (with shorts underneath in case the temperature improved - ever hopeful), a HH base layer top and my new favourite thing: a Rab Shadow Hoodie which I can see getting a lot of use until the sun returns in spring! Extra layers were piled on top for warmth or better waterproofing and it all worked pretty well at keeping me warm.

A huge thanks to Sean, Ali, and everybody else involved in organising the event - you all did a great job. Thanks also to Ian for the loan of his stuff - it was greatly appreciated. And thanks to Bruce for teaming up with this rookie, for his encouragement, his advice and help, for the lift to the event, and most of all for his company over the weekend.

What's next?
Well, a MM type event next year is still on the cards - favourite at the moment is the LAMM but that would be after a series of 3 ultras in 3 months! Ulp! I think I need to stop blogging and get back to training!

Please check the event web site for results, times, a link to some photos (much better than the ones I took), and the routegadget thing that I will update with our route as soon as I can!

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

A Walk In The Park - Part 1

My plan had been to take part in a Mountain Marathon next year, but then I found out about the Grampian Mountain Challenge and wondered if it might be fun. And then I saw these photos and had a good look at the map and decided it could be a lot of fun - it would mean chickening out from the "battles of the shanksis" at the Aberdeen Fetch Mile, but that was OK. So all I had to do was find a partner (or at least someone I knew to chat to at the camp), a tent that would withstand some dodgy weather and a sleeping system that would stop me freezing to death overnight. Unfortunately, the likely candidates were all busy that weekend (or so they tell me!) so it wasn't looking good, then with a couple of days to spare, Bruce mentioned that he'd been talking with the organiser about it, and he agreed to team up with me. Suddenly, it was all back on, and instead of looking at a bumbling jog across the hills, I was teamed up
with a speedy hill runner and experienced Mountain Marathoner. Gulp! On the plus side, Ian the pimp agreed to let Big Agnes come with me, and Thelma help to keep me warm. Those girls plus my old sleeping bag, liner, and extra clothes would hopefully be enough to prevent hypothermia despite Ian's grave predictions!

After a week of constantly changing weather forecasts (snow, rain, sun and high wind with 90mph gusts had all been predicted for the area), it turned out to be relatively benign on the day which was good. Bruce had a dodgy calf and I had a sore toe which was not so good but we registered and headed for the start in good spirits, looking forward to whatever the day would bring.

Day One, Part One - 1:10000

At the start we were given an orienteering map, and a sheet of paper to explain what the heck all the colours on the map meant, and so we set off into the forest with the simple task of trying to follow a path to near the first control - within five minutes we were on the wrong path (the right path took a left without letting us know) but a quick adjustment took us back in the right direction and the orange and white flag was soon spotted. Checkpoint 1 successfully dibbed (is that the correct word?), a look at the map says we need to go thattaway! Up that ludicrously steep looking hill? Errr, yes. Eeek. Not for the last time, we set off up a steep slope with Bruce easily pushing ahead and me scrambling to catch up - I'm really not sure how this partnership would have worked if he'd been fully fit. Anyway, we found the next couple of controls easily enough and were soon down at the transition point without much further incident.

Day One, Part Two - 1:40000

New map, different scale, different symbols and longer distances between control points. I had to laugh as I marked up the map - we'd given Ali (GMC planner) a lift to the event, and I'd asked him about how high the course would take us. "Fairly high up" he'd said, not giving away that we'd have to get to the top of Culardoch at 900m, the highest point in the whole area. But that was three control points away so off we went into the mountains. Along the tar road! Which may sound a bit like cheating, but one thing I learned over the weekend is that roads and tracks are quicker to move along than knee-deep, snow-covered heather (who'd have thought it?). So, we made our way up to the control which turned out to be in the middle of a muddy bog which I managed to step into, up to my knee. Bugger! This let water get inside my SealSkinz socks which was a bad thing and contributed to me feeling like I was going to get frostbitten toes. I hit a real low on the way up Culardoch - the cloud had come down a bit, my feet were cold, and energy levels were low. Bruce made sure I was still eating and drinking and helped by rubbing some warmth into my foot which helped a lot, but not as much as finally getting to the trig point, dibbing the control, and seeing the visibility improve. Then it was a fun but tiring charge down the hill through knee deep snow to the gate in the fence and on to find the last control point of the day - I think we missed it by a small margin but didn't lose too much time curving back round for it before heading for the path down to the camp. It was great to see the marquee and a few wee tents springing up as we jogged down towards the wee rickety bridge and across to the finish. It was even better when we were told to go and upload the times in the lodge where they had a log fire going.

To be continued....

Sunday, 24 October 2010

A Devilishly Good Day Out

With Vikki running the Fling and the Devil O The Highlands next year and me also giving the Fling a go as a solo runner, it was high time to get some West Highland Way training under our belts - well, any excuse for a day away from the kids amongst some great scenery!

We decided to run from Kings House up the Devil's Staircase and over to Kinlochleven, then back by the same route to Kings House but keep on going to Ba Bridge, then back to Kings House again. Vikki, Annie, Laurie, Jonathan, Matt "Tutters" Tutt and I set off in the car with the plan to meet Minty (if his tent hadn't been washed away by the rain) and Mike at KH. After the usual faffing around - arguing with hotel staff who were a bit reluctant to let us use the toilet (even when we promised we would be back for food and beer) and taking the mick out of Tutters for his matching clothes and very white shoes - we set off in the sunshine towards the magnificent sight of Glencoe.

The run to Kinlochleven was great fun, nice and easy paced to take in the scenery and chat to everyone, with a quicker charge down the track near the water pipes. We passed a few walkers including an elderly German who was becoming angry because he couldn't find the right path to Loch Eilde Mor - I hope he found his way although I don't think we were much use! I think it took us 2 hours overall which seemed fairly reasonable. We stopped for a while to get a cup of tea at Ice Factor and checked out their shop for lots of nice jackets I can't afford, before we set off again on the return - a long steady climb back up into the hills. Mike suggested a race down the Devil's Staircase but nobody took him up on the offer - as it happened he flew down with Vikki close behind him, I jogged down on tired legs but got overtaken by Minty and Tutters; J had a wee fall but we all made it safely to the bottom. Back along the track towards the hotel, I felt a wee pain in my hip again (getting slightly worried about this now) and despite some Ibuprofen, the last couple of miles were pretty slow and I decided at that point not to keep going, so waved off the other runners and went to the bar with Tutters to meet Annette (who had been out taking photos) and Annie and Laurie (who had had a nice gentle walk while we'd been running) and drink some beer while waiting for the others to return. Matt had actually been thinking about continuing the run, but considering that he'd never run more than about 7 miles or been on any trails before, he probably made the right decision.

By the time the other runners got back to the hotel, it was time to pile back in the car and head for home so we said our good-byes to Minty and to Mike and Annette, took some photos of deer grazing near the hotel (not sure if they were the same ones we saw on the ridge earlier but they might have been), and headed off into the sunset (actually the sunset was in the other direction, but let's not let reality get in the way of a decent cliché).

Overall, it was a lovely day out in some great scenery with near perfect weather (despite a week of unpromising forecasts) and great company - a lot of nice blethering with many a laugh...

Click on the picture above to see more pictures.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

A Run of Two Halves

2010-09-25 Lairig Ghru

When Craig suggested a club run over the Lairig Ghru, I was well up for it - here was a route I’d wanted to walk for many years without ever quite getting round to it, and a chance to spend a weekend away with some pals. The original plan had been to get a lift to Linn of Dee, run to Aviemore and get a train home the next day, but the train option got dumped in favour of just running back the next day. Yes, George got involved.

The rest of the group comprised Conor, Andrinne and Mags, so we all set off in the wee shanksi bus to Linn of Dee, faffed around a bit, and on the trail before 9. Not that we got very far before I realised I hadn’t locked the car and had to double back. We got some good running in as we made our way up the valley, despite the wind in our faces and the cloud that seemed to be just above our heads - we got a good view of the Devil’s Point (and a few laughs when we talked about the literal meaning of the Gaelic name) but the rest of the peaks were shrouded in mist. It got much colder as we approached the boulder field around the Pools of Dee - extra clothes were deployed (including the gimp suit which did the trick for me). This bit was slow going, picking our way across the damp rocks past the pools - Craig described it as like a scene from Lord of the Rings, and we joked about monsters in the pools waiting to grab unsuspecting hikers - and it was a great moment to reach the other side where we could see Aviemore in the distance up ahead and know it was downhill from there on, and there might even be a runnable path before long. My hands and feet got badly cold on the descent, but it wasn’t too long before the temperature rose a wee bit and we found ourselves coming down into the forest at Rothiemurchus with just a few miles of easy running to take us into the town.

The hotel was nice enough, once they’d figured out how to turn the fire alarm off, and we had a fine meal at Roo’s Leap (served by Wednesday Addams). There was a band on in the hotel so no point in going to bed early and we all sat up drinking and chatting for a while. I think I had 7 pints of Guinness but somehow felt better at breakfast than I had any right to after that amount of drink. In any case, breakfast was eaten, bags were packed, Tesco was visited, and we were off on our merry way, pretty much on schedule.

The weather on Sunday was much better than Saturday, and we were soon sweating out the alcohol as we headed back through the forest. My hip had been a bit sore by the end of Saturday’s run, and it started hurting again so I took some Ibuprofen which kept me going up into the pass. Someone had removed about half the boulders at the top - or so it seemed, we possibly followed a better route through, but definitely crossed more quickly thanks to dry rocks underfoot and generally feeling more positive because the sun was shining. Back on Deeside we made good progress down the path with great views of Cairn Toul, Devil’s Point, and Cairn a Mhaim beckoning us on until we turned the corner and could look across to Lochnagar. On the outward journey, we had taken the bridge across the Luibeg Burn; on Sunday we waded across which was much more fun. Before long, we were back at Derry Lodge, enjoying the last stop on our 44 mile picnic. There was a bit of a feeling that noone really wanted it to end, but it was time to get going on the last few miles back to the car. Sunday had felt like a much quicker run than Saturday, but it still took as long; probably because we took longer over each stop since we didn’t have to worry so much about the chill.

All in all, a really fantastic weekend - good running in wonderful scenery, just about perfect weather on the Sunday and the company of a great bunch of buddies. When’s the next one?

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Nathan Michael Bedford

The wee fella in the picture is our new nephew, Nathan Michael Bedford, with his proud parents. We spent most of the week down in Beverley so we could say hello.

We also found some time to visit the York Maze where we had great fun running around the maze and playing in the park.

And of course, Vikki and I managed a couple of runs, on the Beaver Trail and the Hudson Way respectively.

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Don't Trust Trusta

This morning's run was a bit of an adventure. I had decided to have a shorter weekend run this week (the next two will be ramping up miles in preparation for the Speyside Way Race) but thought it would be good fun to cycle out to the woods, run around for a bit, and then cycle home. And it was good fun, despite almost getting lost thanks to the map being wrong (I think - if anyone knows better then I hold up my hands and apologise, but I'm pretty damn sure about this).

If anyone is interested - you can follow this on multimap here.

I started out from the red circle with the intention of taking the fairly direct track up Hill of Trusta, and then seeing if I could do a bit of total off-road heading East. However, I soon hit the junction that is marked Foggy Moss on the map and thought I must have missed the track so I kept going thinking I would take the next left and cut back towards the hill that way. Except that when I did turn left, I knew I'd gone too far so I decided to get the map out again, and cross-reference it with my phone's GPS to find that I'd arrived in the area of Hurlie Bog. Oh well, I thought, just keep going, left at the next junction and that'll take me back in the right direction. So I plodded on for a bit before I once again got the feeling that the track was not going the way the map said it would, so I checked the GPS and it told me I was just to the West of the track to Hill of Trusta marked on the map. Clearly I was on a track that despite being a proper forest road wasn't on the map but I decided to follow it a wee bit further until I could see that it was following the contours round the hill to "Moss of Anaholans" and points beyond - completely the wrong direction for me.

Thankfully, I noticed a muddy looking track down the divide between some older trees and newly planted ones which was heading South, back down towards the track I wanted, so I ran down that way and back to the car park where I'd left the bike, and headed for home.

In some ways it was quite good fun, but a little disconcerting thinking that I might have been lost and might have had to retrace my steps, just as the rain was coming on. Be careful if you're running, walking, or cycling around that bit of the woods - it looks like the maps are wrong.

Monday, 26 July 2010

Center Parcs 2010

Well, it seems like a wee while ago now, but we had another holiday at Center Parcs Whinfell Forest, near Penrith.

As usual, it was good fun - the weather was somewhat changeable; generally warm but with a rain shower never far away. The boys had a lot of fun, with swimming, tree-trekking, canoeing, bowling, and messing around on pedalos. I also tried to teach them to play pool but even the short cue was too long for Calum and it didn't help that the table was too close to a wall.

Calum had a nice morning fishing with his grandad - not as successful as last time but they caught a couple of tiddlers anyway.

Vikki and I went out for a couple of runs - the first was supposed to be a trip round Skiddaw, Great Calva, and Blencathra but we turned back before the summit of Skiddaw as it was so cold, wet, and generally horrible. For our next expedition, we drove to Caldbeck and followed the Cumbria Way South for 9 miles into the valley between Great Calva, and Blencathra before coming back the same way - All jolly good fun!

Thanks as ever to my lovely in-laws for a superb holiday and for their company and their babysitting skills.

Lots more pictures here:

2010-07 Center Parcs 2010

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Just Swimming In The Rain

(What a Glorious Feeling, I'm Happy Again)

My main target for the Stonehaven Half Marathon was to get round in a decent time, quicker than last year, hopefully quicker than my 2008 Clova time, and definitely ahead of any really old blokes. And I almost succeeded!

In fact, I felt like I had a really good run and paced it well. I ran quite a bit with Jonathan whose company helped eat up the miles. Like with Finlay from Livingstone on the club run on Thursday, it was good to be reminded by someone from further afield how nice the countryside around Stonehaven is to run in - even in the dismal weather.

Nice to see Fiona and Annie at the Fetchpoint and to be able to ditch hat and gloves (I want them back at some point, though).

We hit the 8 mile marker (just as the long downhill starts) at about 1h15 which meant roughly 9mm to the finish would do for a sub 2 hour. The previous mile had been 9:20 ish but that felt distinctly doable so we pushed on. The next couple of miles went well, but I felt I was slowing slightly so urged J to push on himself and gradually watched him pass other runners and disappear into the distance (great run by him, especially when he'd done 11 miles the day before). I felt that I was still going at a decent enough pace and passed a few groups of runners myself (not generally something I'm used to at the end of a race). I was raging at the wind a bit, worried that it was slowing me down so I was going to miss the 2 hour mark, and it sapped my strength a bit.

The last mile back through the town felt tough but it was good to see some familiar faces, marshalling or out spectating in the rain. As I swung into the park, someone confirmed that I was just about 2 hours so I gave it a last push to get over the line and into the welcome seats to get my chip sorted out. Just over 2 hours by my watch but I hadn't stopped it immediately so I wasn't sure but the timing screen was showing 2:00:18 against my name. Damn. Still, not a bad time and better than I'd dared hope so I was actually quite chuffed.

Regrouped with mrs s who'd smashed her PB, then spent a little time catching up with a few other runners - great PBs from Conor, Mike, Jo and Jonathan, club standard for Jane (who also won her age group), and probably others but my memory isn't great - before heading home through the increasingly heavy drizzle.

Later on we took L and C for a swim in the outdoor pool - we could hear thunder and the rain was stotting off the surface of the water but it was fun and not too cold as long as you kept moving.

The day ended with the traditional trip to the Marine for drinks and a blether. Good times were had by all, despite the spilling of drinks and mrs s almost coming to blows with our youngest drinking companion :)

I also found out that my chip time was 1:59:56, so I had sneaked under 2 hours :) although not quite good enough for a PB (not that I really care that much about such things). Sadly I think that I was again beaten by the oldest man in the race - I might be wrong but we think the oldest runner finished in 1:27:58 taking the 60+ prize and ahead of most of the field!

Stonehaven Half Marathon 2010

Sunday was the Stonehaven Half Marathon. It is our local race, run by our club and marshalled by lots of folk I know. I really look forward to it as I feel like I'm saying hya all the way through and waving all the time! I spent an hour the day before helping to make up the goody bags. My job was to put a banana in each bag - 400 odd in total.

Last year's race was run in extreme heat, probably the hottest day of the year and I wilted. Ran it in 1:58. So this year my targets were to beat that time and enjoy the race. And get some points in the club championship. The weather had been hot leading up to the day but as Sunday dawned we had a storm brewing. It was raining, muggy, and very windy. Not good conditions for spectating. Or for meeting up with Fetchies unfortunately. Sorry glypta, RedSquirrel, and sheri3004. Everyone was queuing for their numbers then sheltering in the pavillion. We did see Ultracat before the race and Bousn Tony in the distance.

This year Neil Easton from our club did the pre-race chat and was very good at it. I lined up with Jo, Nicola, and Nina from my club. Iain, Jonathan, and Richard were behind us. The first 4 miles of the race have some brutal hills and the first climb is up Belmont Brae, just round the corner from the start. George was there with words of encouragement, which was great. On Evan Street the hill is known as Beefy Brae and I was already feeling puffed out and hot so I followed Nicola's example and stripped off my helly hansen layer and flashed my bra at everyone. Ran with it tied round my waist for the rest of the race. Pretty soon Jo and Nicola left me behind but I stayed with Nina. I expected to be beaten by all three of them so I wasn't concerned.

Here are my splits:

8.14 7.47 8.28 9.49 7.41 7.39 8.43 8.09 7.37 7.45 8.25 7.30 7.45 1.22

I was very pleased with my pace for the first three miles despite the braes I was going quite fast for me! The 4th mile you will notice is a lot slower but that involves the steepest hill which I had already decided to walk up. So Nina overtook me as I walked up the hill. In the club championship that meant I was looking at 17 points which is one more that I got last year for this race so :-)

Got to the top of the Swanley Hill and heard the piper. Great feeling at that point as I knew that was the worst of it over and it was mostly downhill for the next 9 miles. I speeded up and overtook Nina on the downhill. I was feeling really good now with the wind helping me on. 5th mile was 7.41! Shocker! I was looking forward to seeing Annie's Fetchpoint by now at mile 7. She had promised jelly babies and balloons with Laurie's face on them. Big cheer from Annie and a couple of jelly babies, but the Laurie balloons had all burst :-(
Another good moment was turning on to the Slug Road for the last few miles back in to town. I always get a boost when we turn and head for home and it's also downhill which suits me. Mile 9 came and I saw Jo in the distance. I must admit I was spurred on with the thought of perhaps overtaking Jo. I managed to catch up with her just before the last big hill. So of course I walked again and she ran past me! We had a wee chat and both said we were knackered. At the top of the hill I picked up the pace and managed to catch Jo up again and ran for a bit using her as a wind-break. I felt I had a bit left in me and at the next downhill I decided to go for it and put on a burst of speed to overtake Jo and try and go for the finish. Of course I felt totally sick and had to keep saying to myself "just keep the legs moving". The wind was very strong in my face and at times I felt like it was going to blow me over. I managed to keep it up and did the last two miles in 7.30 and 7.45 which is totally unheard of for me! I thought I might get a PB which was so unexpected. Was great to be shouted over the line by George and Annie among others and I didn't even collapse at the end or throw up. Finish time was 1:46:58 a PB by 3 minutes!!! The chairs were a nice touch and I sat down to take my chip off. My parents had come to see me finish which is unusual for them. I congratulated Nicola on an excellent time of 1:44:06. Next cheered Jo over the line in 1:48:34 which was a PB too. Many folk from our club PBd including Conor and Mike who took quarter of an hour off or something! I was looking out for Iain and watching the clock. He really wanted to beat the 2 hour mark, and the clock went past it :-(. But then I saw him come storming in, no octogenarians in sight and he finished strongly. Later on we found out his chip time was 1:59:56 so he beat the 2 hours! Saw Jonathan and Jane too, both ran great races. It turned out that Jane had won the prize for her age cat but left before the presentation. Also Nicola won first local female prize (I think I was 2nd local female) and Iain Steel from our club won his age catagory and came 21st overall.

We walked home in the torrential rain to relieve Iain's Auntie from babysitting duties. Then we dropped the youngest off at my folks so we could take the older two swimming in the outdoor pool as we got free entry with our race numbers. There was a thunderstorm while we were in the pool and the wind was a bit cold but still good fun.

Lovely take-away pizza for tea then we were off out to the Marine for a few drinkies. Met up with lots of club folk and drank far too much gin and wine. Made it home by 11:20pm as ordered by the babysitters. All in all a very good day.

Thanks to all the organisers and marshals and I can't wait til next year! And Dave, Maz, and Laurie book your hols for a different time next year!

Click here for photos:

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Water Way To Go....

No pictures sadly, but last night was the annual Beaver's end of term water fight at which everyone got well and truly soaked. As ever, it was great fun but sadly it was Emma's last night in charge after being involved for about 10 years. A collection had been made for a wee gift and flowers, and we got all the boys (including some of the Scouts who were there who had been Beavers) to raise a great big cheer. It was hard to tell with all the water everywhere, but I think she shed a tear or two.

So, pending official appointment, I'm the leader. Worried? You should be. I am!

Saturday, 26 June 2010

On the March

There are some pictures on facebook here.

The views from the ski centre were amazing with Rannoch Moor in one direction and Glencoe in the other, and we met up again with team Lintie and team Remoh. Remoh had been tiring so was sleeping in the car to recharge the batteries, and Lintie arrived in need of cold drink and a sandwich. Llama called on the mobile to see how things were going and when he told Dod that Lintie was there, he wanted to speak to her so I trotted across the car park with my phone, leaving V at the food counter with no money!

After food and an attempt at sleep, we got ready for George and the guys to appear as the midges began to swarm. Slight panic when we decided that it would be best for V to go in support for the next bit instead of starting at Kinlochleven, but George and Keith were taking a wee break so she had plenty of time to get back into running mode, not that much running was going to be required. So, as the sun went down, they were off again towards Kings House with the plan to rendezvous with the cars at the bottom of the Devil's Staircase - where Llama told me that he'd broken his windscreen trying to get the rear view mirror back on because it had fallen off when they tried to adjust it. He was a bit worried about getting picked up by the police so we decided that the best plan was for me to drive Andy back to Bridge of Orchy. Strangley enough, we did see a police car on that drive, as well as a deer at the side of the road which we complimented for not jumping out in front of the car. Of course, that meant that on the way back, a couple of deer ran right across in front of me, forcing me to brake. I couldn't help but laugh to myself when I saw this about a minute later:

I got back to the Devil's Staircase and Steve was still there - the guys were taking a bit longer than we expected for this section, but it gave us time to admire the moon and the way that Buachaille Etive Mòr was somehow catching the very last of the light, and to chat to some of the other racers and supporters. After a while, our wee posse appeared, trooped off up into the gloom, and we were back in the cars heading for Kinlochleven. The absurdity of following a guy driving a mirror-less car around the Scottish highlands after midnight while our friends were running/and walking somewhere in the hills around us really struck me at this point. Thankfully I had Mark E Smith to keep me sane:

Tried to get some sleep at Kinlochleven and dozed on a couch for a bit but felt my gout flaring up and started really hoping that the current team of Mike and Vikki were good to see George all the way to the finish. Walking around helped a bit so when Llama woke up we went out to see if we could spot any lights on the hillside. It didn't seem long before we spotted them coming, and then realised that Mike had come down quicker with instructions about food and drink and the information that V would be very happy if I could take over for a bit. My foot still felt a wee bit sore, but it would be OK, so I changed into my cushioned running shoes and started sorting out my pack while George sat down and had a can of Guinness!

But soon we were off, and walking up the hill out of the village in the dark, looking forward to the sun rise as we headed through the Lairig Mor, with me thinking there was no way out at the far end until we finally rounded the corner and the landscape opened up a bit again. George and Keith were obviously very tired by now, and George's feet were hurting badly, but we were still moving at a decent pace and I knew these guys would see it through. I'd thought Mike was going to make it to the finish, but he hadn't had enough sleep or food (too busy worrying about George to think of his own needs) and said he'd want to stop at Lundavra. I tried to call ahead to get V ready to be on the move again but there was no reception, so it came as a bit of a shock when we arrived at the check-point and we said we could do with a swap. To make things worse, George decided to head straight through without stopping. Llama soon caught us up - fittingly he was going to be with us to the finish now, after being there with George and Keith at the start of their adventure.

As we made our way through Nevis Forest, a glint seemed to return to Keith's eye, George perked up a bit, and we all picked up the pace a wee bit as we admired the views of the Ben. Before we knew it, we were out of the woods (literally, and we hoped figuratively) and descending towards Braveheart car park where Merv was waiting to say hello. Not far to go now and we walked in formation into Fort William. There was a touching moment when K and G shook hands before breaking into a trot across the car park and up the steps of the Leisure Centre. 163 miles in 56 hours (or something like that). Pretty bloody amazing, and I'm pleased to have played a small part in that.

The next few hours were all about catching up with everyone else and getting breakfast before the prize giving where every finisher was cheered as they collected their crystal goblet. A huge well done to every one of them - I hope to perhaps join that illustrious band. Maybe. Some time. Perhaps.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Tyndrum to Glencoe

So, to Tyndrum, the village in the middle of nowhere (or in the middle of everywhere as they like to call it) and a pleasant surprise in meeting Dave K and Carolyn who were out for a wee walk, a pick-nick, and to watch the runners on their merry way. They were able to give us a quick run-down so we knew the other Fetchies were doing well and pushing on ahead of us up the trail (being near the back is something I'm well used to, but it must have seemed a bit strange to Dod at times, I think). The guys came through with a quick stop for a chat, then off to Bridge of Orchy where Mike was going to take a break and Llama and his imaginary friend Andy were going to run for a bit. We also decided that V was going to run for a bit as well.
While waiting at BoO, we also met JammyLu and HappyG(rrr), got our first sight of Soph's "sunshine bus", and saw Lintie come through with RFSQL and Jules - all looking strong and running well despite the crazy heat. Not for the last time, it felt like one big alcohol-free (almost) party, slowly moving up the country with already familiar faces, and getting familiar faces appearing at each stop. The scenery around BoO was great (don't think I've ever been there in the sunshine before) but it seemed even nicer at our next stop, Victoria Bridge. There must have been a dozen tents around there and quite a few people milling about, but it still felt extremely tranquil and isolated. Just fab, really. Mike and I had some time to burst blisters and take photos of a totally unperturbed stag before we spotted our runners on the zig-zag slope down the hill and I went out to chat to them all and see if they needed anything while Mike got ready at the car to dole out the supplies. For two guys that had now covered well over a hundred miles, George and Keith were still going strong, keeping to a good steady walking pace. V decided to take a break in order to be fresh for later on, so we picked her up at the Forest Lodge (where the "No Stopping" sign seemed just right for race day) and headed for Glen Coe and the prospect of some cooked food at the ski centre, despite the best efforts of an idiot driver who couldn't make up his mind which side of the road he should have been on. Eejit!


Monday, 21 June 2010

It's All George's Fault...

...although it's also Keith's fault, and Balmedie Beach's fault, and a bottle of wine's fault, and facebook's fault, and Mike's, and Llama's, and V's, and I suppose I have to take some of the blame for the rather bizarre weekend we've just had.
In case anyone doesn't know, George and Keith had decided to warm up for the gruelling 95 mile West Highland Way Race by running a gruelling 95 miles in the opposite direction in less than 24 hours giving themselves roughly an hour to freshen up between (generally, the word "nutters" should be springing to mind at this point). To assist them in this, Keith had Merv and Gary and Kirsten (apologies if any names are wrong but the old memory's not what it used to be) and George had Mike and Llama.
Meanwhile, I was looking forward to a nice quiet weekend with the kids, right up to Thursday night when the lovely mrs s got back from the Balmedie Beach Bash and decided she needed some wine to get over the horrors of running on sand. At this point, Mike seized his opportunity, and using the power of facebook, he pointed out that he and Llama felt that it would be nice to have another runner around on Saturday evening and night, just in case. Of course, the idea that Vikki could be that runner was ridiculous - she didn't want to go on her own, we have children to look after, and the idea of taking the children with us was unthinkable. So, obviously by Saturday lunchtime George and Keith (and a hundred and sixty or so other runners) were making their way Northwards (having not quite done the whole 95 miles Southwards but not too bothered), the children were with their grandparents and Vikki and I were driving Westwards with a pile of clothes, sleeping bags, food, and drink in the back of the car. So much for my nice quiet weekend!
After almost running Mike over as he came out of Ewich forest, we rolled up to Auchtertyre Farm
to see everyone and generally find out what was going on. George decided to strip off - if only I had that effect on women - and wanted to show Llama his chafed bits as he chomped his way through a pot noodle. Thankfully he got into some fresh clothes before he and Keith set off towards Tyndrum with Kirsten and Mike in support while we piled back into the car and almost ran Mike over for the second time that day.


Sunday, 13 June 2010


Had a great day out in the hills yesterday - a bit of running, a bit of walking, and plenty of chat with a good group of friends. Got a lift to Glen Muick with Dod and Lintie where we met up with Mike and Jonathan. The plan was to head up to Cac Carn Beag (the main peak above Lochnagar) then decide on the route depending on how everyone was feeling. The weather was kind and legs were coping well with the easy pace so we decided to take the longer way back via Carn an t-Sagairt Mòr, Cairn Bannoch, and Broad Cairn (we missed out Carn a' Choire Bhoidheach from the recognised round for some reason I can't quite remember). The weather was kind - strong wind at times, but not too cold and with a bit of sunshine - and I had a lovely day out.

Great company, great mountains and great views. Big thanks to Jonathan for organising it.

I've put the best of my photos on facebook at which should be accessible, even if you don't have a facebook account. Please let me know if it doesn't work.

Friday, 21 May 2010

Well Done Lachlan

Well done to Lachlan today. He was taking part in the K'Nex Challenge which he and a classmate qualified for by winning a heat at the school. Today they came 5th out of over 90 teams competing and will go on to the Grampian Area Final.

What makes me most proud of Lachlan is that he is working in a team, not something that comes naturally to him at all. I hope it's a good sign for the future.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Highland Fling 3 - finishing up

I quite fancied a beer and stovies but the signs made it clear they were for the ultra runners only (and even they didn't all get stovies) so I settled for coke and crisps from the shop and waited to see who would appear. I was delighted to see santababy finishing in a fantastic time, crying with the emotion of it all, then finding her composure, discovering her son had come to see her, and losing it all again. Great to see Robbo come home and a smiling supernormal and bouncytime.

The finish area was starting to get busy and I can't really remember who I saw when, but there was a really good feeling in the air. I got a text from Ann to say mrs s had been spotted crossing the road, then a text from mrs s reading "Wigwams " so I knew she was just about there and then she called to see if I would keep her company for a bit, so I jogged back down the track against the trickle of tired runners heading the other way. I passed a confused Dod and Lintie, Sophster (missed her flare at the finish unfortunately) and GraemeC, then met mrs s and headed back to the finish where she helped herself to a well-deserved sit down and gave me her free beer (thanks ). I remember seeing MikeR, _andy, Rob MacSunday all finish (I like the flag Rob - nice touch) and pestomum completing her team's race before I went back down the route again to see who else was on the way. Really pleased to see M1nty heading towards the finish and looking strong and determined - I hope the high-five made up for not seeing him cross the line. I met Andrinne soon after so turned and headed for the finish line again where we could finally collect our team goody bag. We stayed to see flip and Dave K finish, then mrs s was going white so we decided to get some food from the Real Food Cafe which was excellent as usual.

We ate, we showered, then off to Paddy's for drinks followed by a stroll up to the ceilidh where we drank and chatted (I seem to remember laughing a lot) and danced a bit until it was time to hobble back to the hotel.

Strangely enough, enthusiasm for Devil reps with Dod and Lintie had waned over night (I think I'd have been up for it but we needed to get home ) but everyone enjoyed a hearty breakfast as more chat was chatted before multiple good-byes were said, and everyone went their separate ways.

It was a splendid weekend spent in the company of a very special group of friends. I'll be looking forward to the next time we all get together, whenever that might be. A few people have asked if I'll run the whole Fling next year. I have other ideas about what I really want to do next year, but they don't preclude running in the Fling and I'm pretty sure I'll be involved one way or another. I'm still concerned about the cut-off time so feel that waiting another year (and getting another hour if the current system continues) might be the best option, so I may well be looking for a relay team again next year (there was a drunken discussion about a 4 Ia(i)ns team) but who knows?

So, I'm off to sign up for a "how to write less and say more" course. Well done to everybody involved - the ultra runners, the relay runners, the marshalls, the supporters, the organisers - you're all brilliant.

Highland Fling 2 - the actual running bit

Yes, there was running involved, lots of it, although more by some than by others.

There was a good atmosphere at Milngavie as 6am approached with everyone arriving and getting ready to set off. mrs s managed to miss the Fetch photo call and Murdo's briefing while in the loo, but other than that, everything was fine and we headed towards the tunnel. Almost before I knew what was going on, the whistle went and all the runners streamed up the steps and away.

I was planning to go back to the hotel to finish packing but ended up blethering to M1nty and Mrs Minty, Llamadance, flip, and Dave K so before I knew it, it was approaching 7, Murdo was giving another briefing and we were heading for the underpass again. I went up the steps to get a couple of photos and then saw MikeR and _andy so said hello to them as the whistle went and the next lot of runners set off. I was determined to get back to the hotel this time, but stopped to wish Simon good luck and then met Dogtanian before I got away. It was great to see everyone, but I really wanted to get the hotel sorted out and get up to Drymen to see how things were going up there.

At Drymen, we found the first problem with the new chip timing system. Basically, you can't look over the marshalls' shoulders to figure out who has been and gone and who is still coming, but I was fairly sure nobody I knew would have been there before me, so I took a stroll down across the field, and saw Robbo7777 (joking about his best side as usual) and then santababy who gave me a great big hug. It was great to see Sophster, supernormal, and bouncytime all looking happy and running well. I got all the way across the field and then spotted Dod and Lintie coming down the road which got me slightly worried as I expected mrs s to be with them. But she wasn't far behind and had made two new friends (what are the chances?), so I ran back over the field with mrs s, Anna, and Denise, stepped right in the muddy bit, then waved them off at the checkpoint and jumped back in the car, so I could get down to Milngavie for the 9am relay start. Yes, my morning was all a bit mad and involved far too much rushing around.

Thankfully, Ann had registered for the team and was ready with timing chip and sash, and as a bonus I was able to hang out with the Twa Drams & A Piece of Cake team after our first leg runners set off. We went to Costa No-Coffee-For-Another-Ten-Minutes, drank tea, ate croissants, and had a nice wee blether. A little bit of me was starting to worry because their whole team was there and mine wasn't, but I knew I could rely on Andrinne to get run2thehills from Stonehaven to Rowardennan in time. So then back to Drymen, parked in the car park (without sliding around like a mad thing this time), changed into running gear, and up to the check point. Ann arrived just after 11 as expected, and I finally had to do some running. Yep, a page and a half of nonsense bloggage, and I've finally started to run.

As I ran along the road and turned onto the trail, I could just make out a couple of runners up ahead, but no sign of anyone behind. I wondered if I might catch up, but was well prepared for a steady solo run with just nature and my own thoughts for company. As it happened, there were quite a few walkers on the route who were friendly and wished me luck. The last time I'd been on that path, it was covered in snow - not as scenic this time, but much easier going and I was able to follow the proper path so no dodgy river crossings this time. As I reached the bridge that marks the start of Conic Hill, I heard my phone and smiled, knowing that would be mrs s at Rowardennan. I checked while I walked and sure enough, Rowardennan and a smiley face. I sent a quick text to my team to let them know I was on the hill, then got down to the serious business of marching up the hill and enjoying the views When I reached the top of the path, I could see that I'd gained on the runners in front (still no sign of anyone behind) and that they were very tentatively making their way down and I decided to go for a fairly quick descent. The spirit of Dod reminded me that the grassy surface to the right of the path would be my friend here, and so it was, up to the point where my foot slid in the mud and I had to put my hand down to avert disaster. I passed the two other runners (and a dozen or so walkers) with a cheery smile - I was really enjoying myself and in what felt like no time at all, I was passing another runner and heading in to the car park at Balmaha to see Ann with her camera and the Donoghues having a picnic.

At this point, I was feeling pretty good and felt my pace had been OK so I was happy just to keep on plodding away on my own, past the beach etc. Then when I reached Cashel, a woman in a Harmeny vest passed me - I've no idea how long she'd been tailing me, but it was the first sign that my pace was probably slipping. Just before I hit the next hill, my phone went again and I thought "that'll be mrs s at Inversnaid. Good stuff" but then it went again which confused me. Turned out the first one was a message of support from josieT which was nice to receive. I looked back along the path, I noticed that the two ladies I'd passed on Conic Hill were not far behind. I had slowed down a fair bit, so tried to push on a bit for a couple of miles. The two women caught me up and spoke for a wee bit and then IanS joined us and we exchanged a few words before he moved on ahead. My legs were hurting by this point so it was with relief that I saw the 2km to Rowardennan sign. It felt like a long 2km but it wasn't too long before I was past the hotel (the beer and food being consumed in the beer garden looked great) and heading towards the changeover at the entrance to the car park (and realising I was a little outside my hoped for 3 hours). Except it wasn't there. It was at the far end of the car park this year, but run2thehills was there and ready to go. I passed over the sash and the chip and wished him luck.
"2 hours 15? 2 and a half?" he said.
"I had you down for about 3", I replied.
"Seriously. But go prove me wrong!"
I'd warned him about how difficult that section gets, but at that point, I don't think he'd fully appreciated what he was facing.

Andrinne drove me back to Drymen to pick up my car (I felt like being sick but managed to keep it together), then we headed in convoy up the other side of the Loch. I was really pleased that I saw Johnny "Sticky" Budden (Link (roll over me to see where I go)), but I'm not sure if he appreciated a strange bloke yelling encouragement out of a car, and I think Andrinne must have wondered what the hell was going on. It was decided that Andrinne was going to go to Bein Glas and see halfpint and get ready for her final leg while I went on to the finish to see what was happening there. Meanwhile Ann was getting mobile on her bike and checking out where people were on the course.

There's more drama and high emotion to come, but I'll leave that for another post because I've rambled on longer than intended again. Succinctness is not my forte, it would seem. Running's not really my forte either, but I'm reasonably pleased with my efforts on Saturday and I enjoyed it, especially the descent of Conic Hill (even though I probably should have taken it a bit easier).

Highland Fling 1 - not the ideal preparation

(Another copy of a Fetch blog post)


I often get nervous before races - not about the running, but more about getting to the start, finding a car park, somehwere to stay, etc, etc. So, captaining a relay team for a race on the other side of the country while my mrs was to be running a 53 mile ultra might not have seemed like the best plan. Nevertheless, the organisation went pretty well, and despite having to make a late substitution because of halfpint's injury, we were all ready, everyone knew where they had to be at roughly what time, and had organised transport, accommodation, and (where necessary) child minding.

And then a volcano erupted in Iceland. And our babysitters are stuck in Malta. So I go back to full scale worry mode - plans B, D, E are formulated, evaluated and rejected. Substitute runners, babysitters, and accommodation are tentatively sounded out before plan F is decided on which involved a switch to leg 4 for me, Ian and Andrinne having to get up early, and halfpint having to tie our kids to a tree in Tyndrum while waiting for mrs s to finish. Not ideal, but a plan that would work, and an end to the panic and the worry and the not knowing.

So there we are on Friday morning, getting packed, dividing food into drop-bags for mrs s and generally getting ready for a weekend of running and listening to moaning kids when the call comes in. The in-laws are flying back in the middle of the night. Suddenly, alternatives are available, reality shifts again, and new plans are formed. We take the kids to Milngavie, the in-laws meet us there at stupid o'clock am, after they land in Glasgow, they take the kids away, and everything else reverts to plan A. My brain just about explodes but we have a plan, the school bell is ringing and it's time to rock and roll. Or something like that.

The car journey was great - we had a few phone calls to let us know that the flight would be earlier, then later, then roughly the same time again. Littlest shanksi took a dislike to the fair city of Perth and showed his feelings through the medium of vomit. But, before you could say "are we there yet" 32 times, we were in Milngavie and at the restaurant, and everyone was there and there were hugs and kisses and "Happy St George's Day" wishes and "Shut the Englander up" requests and beer and pasta and olives and the kids were actually quite well behaved and we were having a good time.

We left the party a bit early because we expected to be awakened early and headed to the hotel where the staff were being as friendly and helpful as they were last year and assured us we'd be able to make our breakfasts in the morning etc. And so to bed, not entirely sure if we'd be woken by an alarm clock or a phone call, but knowing it would be early in either case. It turned out to be the alarm - no call from the in-laws, maybe they'd been delayed a wee bit, but sure they'd be in touch soon. In any case, time for mrs s to get up and get her breakfast and any last minute preparations. Still no call, I'm getting a little bit worried again, as I was expecting a text from the airport. And then "We're in the car park". Except they're not. Eek. What's gone wrong. They've ended up at the wrong hotel, but it's OK because it's only 5 minutes away, and the reason they didn't call earlier is that they've been sitting there for an hour and a half so we could get a decent amount of sleep. How brilliant are they?

And finally, the kids are being bundled half-asleep into the in-laws car and they're setting off up the road, mrs s has porridge inside her, her drop bags are looking good, flip and santababy have been spotted getting ready, Dod and Lintie have texted to say they're on their way and did mrs s need a lift (not needed, but thank you), and we've picked up a hitch-hiker in the shape of JenJ and are off to the station. The hotel room still needs to be cleared, but I've plenty of time to do that later. The important thing is that it's race day, mrs s is in plenty time for the 6 o'clock start, the kids are in safe (but other) hands, and I can relax for a bit and enjoy the day.

Sorry, but as ever I've rambled on in my usual way, and haven't even got to the running bit yet. And there are tales of meeting Fetchies and drinking and dancing to come as well, so stay tuned - but don't hold your breath, it takes me ages to get going on these things.

And then I have trouble stopping, obviously!

Thanks for listening.

Assuming you have been.

Half the West Highland Way in a Oner!

2010-04-24 Highland Fling

Last weekend, Vikki and I took part in the Highland Fling 53 mile ultra race. The following is Vikki's blog as previously posted on Fetch (so you don't need to read it if you've seen it there :).

My 3 blogs will follow here soon....


This race has been a long time coming. A wee bit of background: shanksi found out about this race last year and suggested we form a relay team to run it in 2009. I said yes, as long as I could do the easiest bit (ie first leg). We did the race and really enjoyed it, although shanksi had a bit of a mare on leg 3. We went to the ceilidh early and left as the ultra runners were arriving. Stayed in the Wigwams.

This time I thought I would go for the whole thing . The training runs we did were superb and I kept up my miles and felt ready for it. The D33 was a great training run. I was actually following a training schedule for Edinburgh marathon in May and adding more miles in and doing some back-to-back long runs on Loon Dod's advice.
As the day approached we had a slight hiccup in the plans cos my folks got stuck in Malta due to the volcano. If you want the details on that read shanksi's blog. We had to take the kids to Milngavie with us on the Friday which was alright and they enjoyed the meal at the Italian restaurant. I felt we couldn't get in with the Fetchie chat as we were dealing with them which was a shame. We all went to bed at 10pm and set the alarm for 4:30am
My folks arrived and took the kids home for us and I am so grateful, they are stars!
Met up with all the fetchies at the start and soon we were off. My plan had been to stay in sight of LD and Lintie for at least the 1st leg so I wouldn't get lost but they went too quick for me! I ended up running with lizogical and two non fetch ladies called Anna and Denise. I was telling them both about Fetch and hopefully they will join. The first leg seemed to fly by and we didn't get lost . Met shanksi at Drymen which was nice and then my sister rang me on my mobile; I actually had to say "I'm in the middle of a race!" while running past a marshal laughing at me. So on to Conic Hill. It seemed further away than on our training run. Not sure if that was because I was running slower? It all looked a bit different without the snow. Climbing the hill was so much easier and I caught up with LD and Lintie there. I absolutely loved bombing down the other side and it was just so much better than our dreaded icy training run. Next stop Balmaha. Met bouncytime looking strong and she left not long after I arrived. The marshals were great with the drop bags, I liked that they asked for your number then had them ready to had to you. I stopped for the toilet (so civilised using a proper flushing toilet rather than a bush!). Then on to Rowardennan. I remembered it was still hilly and just walked quickly up the hills. Saw Soph, can't remember exactly where, (my brain has gone). Rowardennan came and I stopped for toilet again and my running mates pushed on instead so I did the next bit on my own. It was much harder on my own and I was very pleased to catch Anna and Denise up. Next stop was Inversnaid. Everything was going well and Anna and I stopped for the loo again (sorry for this!) but Denise was feeling really strong and pushed on without us. Anna and I stuck together and helped each other through the next lochside section which has all the rocks and ladders and bits where you think you might fall in. Some of the fast guys were passing us here and even they were chatting and saying well done. It was such a friendly race
I felt Bein Glas was a long time coming but I was still feeling good. Anna and I got chatting about all sorts, even politics . We were so pleased to see Bein Glas and I was happy to see halfpint with my cuppa tea Also saw Soph again fiddling with her feet. I had a tin of gin n tonic in my drop bag but didn't feel the need so I gave it to halfpint to look after and she was a mate and didn't drink it! I had it on Sunday night.
Last section was in sight, only 12ish miles to Tyndrum but v hilly. I'd done this section a few times in training but never after 40 miles. The hills felt longer than I remembered and I walked quite slowly up them. I was still managing to run the flat bits and downhill. Anna was getting a wee bit weary and said I should go on without her which I relunctantly did. For the first 6 miles of the last leg I was still ok but then starting feeling sick and I ran out of water . One of the worst parts of the course was the bit with the coos. They were totally blocking the path and they had their calves too so I walked very slowly past them on a ledge. How very dare they! Now in to the final 6 miles in the forest bit I couldn't believe how steep both the ups and downs were. I had sore thighs and in the end was only managing to run the downs. Sophster and GraemeC1983 caught me up and were great to chat to for a while til they got ahead. I loved hearing Soph's crazy singing and shouting echoing round the woods. Anna's Mum (who'd been a star supporting her daughter everywhere) appeared and offered me some water which saved me so big thanks to Anna's Mum Eve. I got to the wigwams hurrah! Texted shanksi. Then phoned shanksi cos I thought it would be nice to have him run me in. Spotted him with a mile to go and we jog-walked the rest together. I managed to sprint the very last bit to the line and it was wonderful to hear everyone calling my name and clapping. Finished in 12 hours 45 mins which I am very very pleased with as I had been telling everyone who asked 13 hours. Big hugs from Loon Dod, Lintie, santababy, halfpint, Sophster and loads more

Saw more folk come in, MikeR, DaveK, M1nty, Hendo, flip, Andrinne from shanksi's relay team. Rob MacSunday, Pestomum, Bonsim007, and _andy not in that order! Was lovely to see Robbo7777 waited to give me a hug before dashing off.

Didn't get any stovies as they'd run out . So we went to the Real Food cafe for lovely fish n chips and free tea with Ribenaface, Julesy, Run2theHills, halfpint, LorraineS, IanS and loads more sorry if I miss anyone's name out. Then back to Tyndrum Lodge to finally get a shower and change in to my party dress. Met up with everyone in Paddy's Bar. Had to get a lift out of my seat by shanksi and R2H as my legs had seized up. Went to the ceilidh and immediatley had a second tea of chicken curry . Actually got up to dance at the end and sing along with Flower of Scotland etc which made me lose my voice the next day. Was a great day and fun night and I finally crawled in to bed at 2am Can't wait for next year! Everyone did so well and you should all be proud. What a wonderful race with the friendliest people and the most beautiful scenery And Denise has joined Fetch as UltraDenise

Monday, 22 March 2010

Dirty Weekend Away

Sorry this blog is so long but I feel the need to spew it all out and never think of it again

Iain had been wanting to do this race for a couple of years but it always clashed with Calum's birthday. This year we decided to go for it since Calum's birthday is today so we were back to celebrate it.
Things started out well as we were organised enough to drop the boys off at my folks' house at 9:20am just when we said we would. We stopped off at the Tesco in Dundee for all the essentials - wet wipes, antibacterial hand cleaner, the Guardian, hankies, pasta salad, 3 tins of Gin and Tonic, and a box of wine.

The first argument occurred in Edinburgh. There was an accident at Baberton and the bypass was crawling. Iainpoints to a road on the map - we could just take this wee yellow road and avoid the jam he said. So I came off the bypass and end up in a huge jam in Colinton. Wasted loads of time there and ended up back on the bypass. Finally got to Innerleithan at about 1:30pm. Just in time to watch the spouse race. Some folk carrying their partners up a hill and back down. Luckily Iain is too weak to lift me.
Pitched the tent and went for a wander. The weather was fine and all seemed ok. We got changed in to daft costumes. I was pleased to see no one else thought of wearing a tiara, although I saw one other lady with pearls. We watched some of the 5k people finishing. They looked knackered and v wet and muddy. The slowest ones took over 2 hours to complete the 5k . I was starting to get worried. We met Stephen Terwey from our club who'd done it last year. He said he did the 10k in 1:33. But he is v fast. Had to have a g n t to calm my nerves.

Finally we got underway at 5:40pm. The race starts so late so you do half of it in the dark to add to the 'fun'. The first obstacle was hay bales and I managed to fall as I landed on one foot. Luckily I did a roll and nobody stood on me but I heard laughter from the crowd . We ran a tiny distance and were then stuck in the first bottleneck. The path was too narrow for the amount of folk. This happened a few times. Not long in to the race and we had to wade through the pond. Freezing dirty water up to my waist . The tweed skirt did not dry quickly and it was horrible. Iain had to give me a hand to get out. Next we ran to the base of the first hill. It was as steep as the Balmoral hill and everyone around us walked. We reached another bottleneck of folk at some logs we had to balance on. Met a fetchie at least - AnnaP who was very friendly. We had a spooky forest bit which they had livened up with disco balls and lights. I didn't enjoy the descent as it was v steep and dark. I kept worrying that I would fall. I was getting a bit miserable by now as I mistakenly thought that we had to do two 5 k loops that were the same. WRONG! It was two different loops! Before I realised that I was going to DNF after the first 5k. The next awful thing was a 200m wade through the river against the flow. shanksi practically dragged me and we were arguing again. Our next challenge was another steep hill but this time it was scree. People in front of us were moving so slowly which meant we got cold and frustrated. I think it was because there were more log balance things at the top. On the way back down it was steep again but thankfully I didn't injure myself. It was pitch black by then. Finally there was a bit running along the river bank which was alright cos I knew we were nearly finished. More stinky river nonsense but not as bad as before.
The last obstacles were a tunnel and a cargo net. Iain was ahead of me and got stuck! He had a bottle in his back pack and it got caught in the net. I was stuck behind him. Luckily he got through and we crossed the finish line hand in hand . It took us 3:00:06 according to the provisional results but I think it was actually less than 3. Still, it had been agony for me and I was close to tears at times and arguing which is not what you want. Poor Iain, I feel I spoiled it for him.
The medal was quite nice

The bad stuff continued afterwards when we had to queue for an hour for some food. There were only two wee stalls selling food to a 1000 folk!!! At least the other participants were friendly and I met a friend of Jane Tulloch's from Orkney. She was called Rachel from Gala Harriers. And she had been sick poor thing. So we finally got to the party and saw a bit of one band by 10:30pm. Iain had a pint but I didn't bother. Ended up going to bed fully-clothed as it was so freezing. The only good bit was snuggling while listening to the bands up to midnight. Then we tried to sleep. Got rudely awakened by some aresholes playing Arctic Monkeys at full blast from their car. Shoved Iain out the tent to confront them but someone else got there first and they shut up. Yes I am an old fogey! Hardly slept a wink (like normal in the tent) and got up when Iain said it was 8am. Turns out his watch was 2 hours fast. Never mind, I was desperate to get home. We went home still wearing the same clothes (not the wet muddy ones I must add) and had our breakfast in the Little Chef at Dreghorn. Maple syrup pancakes and tea . Cheered up when I saw my boys and had a shower. Then we both went to give blood. Had the last night and feel back to normal now.

I will not do this race again. Don't let me sign up!!! I have too much fear according to Iain. Walking waist deep in muddy freezing water just is not fun imho! Next race - D33

PS Stephen from our club came 5th! He had an amazing time of 1:22.

Too Much Traffic

(Sorry, this is a long one)

For once, we set off when planned and made good time all the way to the Edinburgh City Bypass where we ground to a halt because of the traffic. I decided we might be better off on a different road, so I directed us onto a road through Colinton which was possibly busier and slower. Words were exchanged but we eventually got through it and were back on the road. I didn't know it at the time but this episode was to be echoed a couple of times before the day was out.

In any case, we arrived in plenty of time, and were setting the tent up as the Spouse Racing was going on and the 5K got under way while we had lunch washed down with G&T. Then registration, a tub of fine stew, and a chance to relax and watch some of the 5K runners finish (looking a bit wet but generally unscathed from their adventures) and generally soak up the atmosphere and look at the various outfits.

As the start time for the 10K approached we met Stephen from our club who was running this event for the second year running and ended up coming 5th this year. And then it was off to the start line to be told the start was being delayed for 10 minutes because it was too bright and sunny (the race is timed so that most runners finish in the dark). So a bit more milling around and warming up later and then we were off and heading up to the first obstacle - a wall of hay bales which I clambered over and then turned round to see Vikki picking herself up off the ground looking embarrassed rather than hurt. A tight turn onto a narrow road created a massive bottleneck which we shuffled through and then managed to run for a bit. Until we got to the first water hazard - two muddy pools followed by a muddy squelchy patch. The water was freezing and deep enough to soak my shorts in their entirety and much of the tweed(ish) jacket I was wearing. Vikki needed to be pulled out of the pool before we could head off up the hill - a long slog with only short sections where the gradient and the crowds allowed a bit of a run. Somewhere up there, it started to get dark under the trees, so torches were going on, and there were more bottlenecks at obstacles, and then we reached the top and headed steeply downhill, past the disco lights, over fences and down to the nets at the bottom before a flat run into the town and into the river which was flowing fairly quickly against us. (By the way, it turns out that wading in freezing cold fast flowing water in the dark is not the best idea for marriage relations. Who would have known.)

The next section took us up another steep hill, past some weird stone pillars and then down along a narrow path to the bottom of a very steep scree slope. I found this bit very frustrating because there was basically a single file path up and it turned into a slow walk with a complete standstill every few steps. At least I was able to do a bit of stargazing. Over the top of the hill, it opened out a bit but the descent was steep and Vikki didn't want to risk injury so we reined back a bit and jogged gently down. A bit more running on slippy paths, then back through the town (we got to use the bridge this time) and on to the sump - more waist depth water, this time in a wee tunnel under a bridge. Another couple of water crossings and we were finally at the back of Traquair House where the scent of the brewery gave me fresh impetus and we ran towards the finish. To my great embarrassment, I cocked up the cargo net in sight of the finish (I'd forgotten about the head torch and the backpack which both got caught). I grabbed Vikki's hand and we crossed the finish line together.

After that, it was time to get changed into dry clothes and then wait in a long queue to get something to eat, before finally getting to the after party and enjoying a beer, although we only stopped for one before heading back to the tent to warm up and chat while listening to the music from there. We woke to find frost over everything but managed to pack away the tent despite freezing hands and set off at which point we realised that my watch was a couple of hours fast and it was still only 8am. Still, it meant we got home at a sensible time.

All in all, an interesting experience, some fun bits, some not so fun bits. A little less fun than I'd been hoping for but more enjoyable than you might think if you listen to Vikki ;)

Would I do it again? Maybe, but I'd hope they did something about the bottlenecks and I'd go harder at the start to try and get further up the field.

There are some pictures on our picasa site here:
Search sleepmonsters and flickr for photos if you want to get a better idea of what the race was like.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Just a wee 54 mile bimble with friends

Last weekend Iain and I were lucky enough to go down the the WHW for a weekend of back to back runs and a night in the luxurious *ahem* Tyndrum Lodge Hotel. It meant another 5am alarm call but it was worth it. Made it to Drovers by 9am and met up with Loon Dod, Lintie, Santababy, Simon, MikeR, Joopsy, M1nty, Ribenaface (RFSQL), and Robbo7777. The weather was mild and thankfully there was no ice
We set off for Rowardennan at 9ish am. The first 7 miles to Inversnaid seemed to pass quicker than last time but we were only 6 minutes quicker. Used the posh toilets again at the hotel (how civilised!) and we were off again. Got to the Rowardennan Hotel in time for lunch although Joopsy and I managed to run right past it! Iain had to shout at us to come back. When we got in the fast lot were already having some lovely soup beside the fire. Iain bought me a cup of tea and I rearranged my food for the journey back.
It's quite hard to leave a pub with an open fire to run back but I managed it and really enjoyed the trip. Lots of good chatting and spotting goats and dead sheep along the way. At least we didn't have to wade through the loch this time. We made it back before nightfall (7.5 ish hours) and collapsed in to the Drovers bar. I was willing to drive and let Iain have a pint but he said it was fine so I had a v nice g 'n' t with the gang. Everyone did so well and Iain and Ribenaface popped their ultra cherries
We all went back to Tyndrum and met up with Llamadance in Paddy's Bar. He couldn't make it for the running but managed the fish 'n' chips and a drink with us. We all ate for Scotland in the Real Food Cafe and enjoyed free cuppas in our mugs from the Fling. Back to Paddy's for more drinking and much hilarity abuout Japanese vending machines and the like but shanksi and I were tiring and left them to it at 10:30pm. Next thing was being woken up at ?? o'clock by Santa and Simon laughing their heads off in the corridor... Found out the next day that most of the folk had stayed up drinking shots until chucking out time. Much respect due for their endurance!!
Met the gang for breakfast and Ribenaface was a wee bit worse for wear and said he wouldn't be running that day (he hadn't planned to but I thought we might persuade him). Sophster was on her way so it was one out and another in for round 2 - Tyndrum to Bein Glas and back. Not long after we set off M1nty was feeling a bit sore in the ankles after he'd gone over them the day before. He turned back, but then caught up with us again. Then after 6 miles Iain decided to turn back. He met M1nty and they hitchhiked back to Tyndrum(!) The rest of us carried on and one of the best bits was the downhill in to Bein Glas. I was thinking - now I'll get to the loo, but alas it was locked . So I just kept it in. I'm useless at doing it outside. M1nty peeped us from his parked car to say bye. On the way back we spotted someone on a hill taking pics; it was Iain! He'd driven over to meet us. I wasn't even tempted to get a lift back, I was feeling so good. The run back to Tyndrum was excellent fun listening to the singing (mainly Santababy) and all the chat . Best bit was running up to where the finish line will be on the 24th. Met Iain in the pub and he'd drank 2 pints of guinness so I had to drive home grrr!

Here are some pics

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Magnus is Two

Where has the time gone? Magnus turned two yesterday so we celebrated in the usual style with presents and cake. The lucky lad got some new lego, some "In The Night Garden" characters who he has really taken to, some Bob the Builder toys, and a very hard (as I discovered) toy camera.



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Sunday, 3 January 2010


Despite the snow that has been a constant feature of the last few weeks, we hadn't been out with the sledges, so I was happy to take up Lachlan's suggestion and go out with the boys. Vikki was out running, so Lachlan, Calum and I set off for Mineralwell with Magnus in tow (literally, he sat in the sledge and was happy to be pulled along). When we got there it was icy, so fast and bumpy and good fun. The hard ground had taken its toll on others; a few shattered sledges were lying around.
Magnus and I took one sledge and kept to the lower bit for a few runs - I think he enjoyed his first time.

Meanwhile, the elder two had a couple of runs down the big hill. You can see them near the top in this picture, just a few seconds before they hit a big jump that someone else had built and took a fairly spectacular tumble. I wish I'd managed to capture that particular moment on film as it looked fairly impressive. Calum hurt his arm a bit, but nothing too serious and was about to get going again when Magnus got upset, possibly because he was getting cold.

Time to go home for Hot Chocolate followed by a lunch of Heinz Tomato Soup and a bit of a session on the Wii. Not a bad way to spend a couple of hours.