Wednesday, 6 June 2012

A Retrospective Round-Up of Running (and other things) in May

As usual, recovery and tapering between the Fling and the Cateran Trail race meant that May's miles were lower than previous months but I still managed over 100 miles. Looking back, I would say it's been a pretty good month, with the following highlights.

Orienteering

Two Friday evening sprints plus a Wednesday evening summer series event. Lachlan joined me for the two more local ones, so it was never going to be fast (not that I was that fast on the one I did myself either) but nice to have a bit of a jog round the forests after work and get some map/compass practise in.

Improvers Cup

Our club's monthly timed 5k (ish) race returned to Thursday this summer so I was able to take part in the first one. Very pleased with 22:59 (for ~2.95miles) despite a slightly tight hamstring, and especially pleased with the final mile where I was able to pick up the pace slightly and overtake Elaine.

Durris Mast Race Recce

Like last year, I decided not to run the race because a) it was two days before the Cateran Trail race and b) someone has to look after the kids. I did however go on the recce the week before the race and it was, as usual, much fun splashing through the mud, slogging up the ups and flying down the downs. Sometimes I think these club runs often end up being more fun than the races themselves as they tend to be more sociable and less lung-busting, although they miss that competitive edge which brings its own excitement.

The Great Drumtochty Challenge

I think I heard about this mountain bike orienteering event a couple of years ago and had thought it sounded like fun, especially as they had a parent + offspring category to encourage family participation. I ended up teaming up with Lachlan (for someone who isn't normally thought of as an outdoors active type, he's done a fair bit recently and seems keen to do more - really chuffed!) and, after a bacon roll at registration, we set off into the woods with the basic plan of just seeing how it went. And it was good fun - we had a bit of good luck when we passed a control point that I had somehow not marked on the map, and some bad luck when I got a puncture and lost some time changing the tube in the cold drizzle. We ended up finishing with 25minutes to spare and a respectable points total so felt pretty pleased and I reckon we'd have picked up one or two extra controls if hadn't been for the puncture. Very keen to do this again next year.

Cateran Trail Ultramarathon

The Cat probably deserves a blog post all to itself, but it's not getting one, so hopefully I can keep this bit reasonably short and sweet. Basically, we had a lovely weekend up at the Spittal of Glenshee - having the race start and finish at a hotel who do a great deal for the weekend creates a really nice atmosphere, and Karen and her team do a great job of organising the race. Great RD, great marshals, great scenery, great race.
I ran a lot of the early part of the race with Minty and Alan, chatting so much we missed a turning which added about .3 mile onto the route and allowed Jonathon to catch up with us and run with us for a bit. Minty felt he was struggling a bit further on, at about the same time as J found some extra speed, so I ended up on my own for a long stretch. It was lovely to get to Alyth, as I'd been looking forward to seeing Vikki and her team for a few miles, but I didn't want to linger too long at any of the checkpoints and pressed on reasonably quickly towards Blairgowrie where Sandra was acting as a lollipop lady and dishing out big hugs in the middle of the road. I was feeling some tightness in my hamstrings by this point and felt like I was starting to slow down a bit as I headed for Bridge of Cally and on from there towards Kirkmichael. A few other runners caught me up over this section which was a bad sign but I managed to tag along with Jo, Debz, and Rob for a while which helped keep me going. A couple of miles from Kirkmichael, a runner joined us from the woods on the left - I thought it must have been someone who'd stopped for a call of nature, but then realised it was mags who I would have expected to be way way ahead of me. She'd taken a wrong turning thanks to a broken sign and added about six miles to her race - she was also in a bit of pain at this point so we continued together at a fairly slow pace into Kirkmichael where Vikki, flip, Anna and Lorna were keeping an eye on things. Alan caught us up at Enochdhu and the three of us set off up the last big climb. It was nice to actually see where we were going this year after last years low cloud and rain and it made for a fairly pleasant walk up into the hills. By the time we passed the lunch hut and started the last wee climb, my legs were feeling quite a bit better and I was starting to look forward to the final descent. The sight of another two figures behind gave me further impetus to keep moving. It was good to see Neil who had come up from the hotel and then we were at the gate and could see the roof of the hotel. There's a sign there that says "Glenshee 20 minutes" but I'm pretty sure I made it down a lot quicker than that - felt great running down, brilliant to see Minty on the hill and to hear the cheers from everyone at the finish. Hugs and handshakes all round as I crossed the line, just magic.
Vikki tried to shepherd me towards a warm shower but I wanted to wait a bit and see Alan and mags cross the line first. And then, time for a shower, but first a quick chat with Jonathon, Leanne and Minty, and a drink seems like a good idea, and maybe some food first, then a shower. But then Ray was finishing to a huge ovation and before I knew it, it was time for the presentations to the finishers so I ended up receiving my quaich still in my running gear and probably starting to smell a bit. Then it was finally time to go get a shower (well, after the penalty shoot-out of course) and put on some fresh clothes before returning to the bar for drinks and chat and singing (by Conor, not me, you'll be thankful to learn if you've ever heard me sing).
Thanks to Karen for organising such a great race, to all the marshals who give up their time to allow the race to go ahead and are so supportive and helpful to the runners, and to all the staff at the hotel who make everyone so welcome for the weekend.

Thirsty Thursday

The month ended with an interesting club training session with some steep ascents and descents, a bit of beach running and some fence climbing (electric and barbed). It was great fun and followed by the traditional trip to the pub. Just about the perfect way to end the month if you ask me.

Looking Forward

June is going to be a busy month, in many ways the climax of the year as far as running goes.
This weekend I'm off to... well, actually I don't know where, for the LAMM which promises to be another challenging but fun event. We find out where we're going tomorrow lunchtime.
Then it's a trip to Ellon for the Ythan Challenge which ought to be good fun.
And then the West Highland Way race, 95 miles of gruelling trail running. For Vikki. I'll be driving around, drinking cups of tea, eating cake, and chatting to lots of lovely people. Should be a ball.

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