6 years in the Making

Photo credit: Lucja Leonard

It is quite surreal sitting here being able to write this blog.  I wasn’t sure I would ever get here (that may be a wee lie, I’ve learnt never to doubt my conviction and determination – maybe the question was when?):

How did I get here?  

Six years ago I injured my leg playing rugby, a completely random injury – a tackle directly to the nerve in my lower leg.   I was in a lot of pain (approximately on scale of 7-8 out of 10 daily) this impacted on my ability to be active.  For a period I questioned whether I would be able to continue being active.  Think of it like:  shooting pains down my leg, pins and needle sensations repeatedly, electric shocks, numbness – these would repeat every hour, multiple times within the hour.

This was a devastating consideration when activity and exercise are  my work and my stress management tool.  I eliminated lots of sports, the list was getting very short, unfortunately running became my sport hahaha.  I say unfortunately, it has been a lifesaver. Irnoically my first blog was named – ‘I hate running . . . ‘.

To help me stick with running, I knew I would need a BIG goal.  Well, I heard about the West Highland Way Race and immediately knew this was it – my goal –

Complete the West Highland Way in 23 hours ie finish on the same day I start.

West Highland Way Effort 2017

Fast forward 6 years and here we are, two weeks on . . .

The day after, I was ecstatic that I could get off the toilet without having to hold on and pull myself up while making noises (you know so no faces!!!)

There were so many considerations leading up to the 1am start, it throws the newbie that

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Photo credit: Karen Brown

this is not a normal time to start a race, but then there is nothing normal about this epic race.  I was pretty nervous heading to registration, it’s always the same with new events, it seems like everyone knows everyone but I spotted some familiar faces (Sharon, Jeni and crew).  Registration itself was very smooth and easy to follow, blown away with the jacket in my goodie bag . . . karen threatening to steal it while Im out on the course (it had to be purple hahaha).  We headed to the car for some last minute relaxation and just closing my eyes for quiet time. But not before Captain Coo also received his band, weigh-in prepped for his race also.

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Photo credit: Karen Brown

(Just in case you’re wondering, Captain Coo is Munro Primary Schools newest recruit #schoolmascot )

The nerves ramped up at the race briefing and the guys left me to get a good spot to try to see me run through.  Before you knew it we were running through the tunnel, it was pretty awesome, the cheers, cowbells, support along the high street.  Then it was all about settling in, I thought it would take ages for us all to thin out but it happened within 1 – 1.5 miles.  This first section to Drymen was great just being able to check off the points I remembered from my recce. It felt like each memory was being ticked off quicker than I had anticipated but I wasn’t going any quicker than I should have been.  I felt good, it was great seeing people spotted throughout the course encouraging us on, I hadn’t expected this, the time of night and because of the surrounding built up areas.

I stuck to my nutrition plan, eating every hour, even though the temptation was to just push on because I was feeling so fresh.  I met my crew for the first time at Drymen in the field, big G spotted me, giving me a wee shout.  They told me they would be wearing flashing bunny ears (G) and the other would be a walking rave (Karen), I was. Little disappointed that there was only fluorescent flashing lights. We took the time to top up my water, exchange snacks for the next stage that I might need and ate some more food as well.  We had agreed in advance that I would be given an update on my timing and where we were relative to my where I needed to be to hit my target of 23 hours.  I’d also leave with the next sections distance to help me stay focused on the here and now, I had learnt from previous big races that I find it overwhelming to keep the full distance in my head at all times.

Despite the moody weather, the big black clouds hovering as the light came in, the scenery was stunning!  As I rounded the corner behind Conic Hill, looking out on Loch Lomond, I was again, despite the poor light, blown away by its beauty.  The small islands look like the humps of what could be the Loch Ness Monster  . . .  and no I wasnt hallucinating haha.

Just before Conic Hill I was able to take off my headtorch, it certainly was not as bad as the first time I took on the hill in a recce.  It passed quickly due to the memories I had from that day:

‘I remember pushing up the hill on a stunner of a day, glorius sunshine, not a cloud in the sky.  There were lots of folks out that day, I caught up with some young-ish kids who were out with their mums.  They were playing rock-paper-scissors, I was amused by this and it distracted me from my sore quads.  The young lad just kept playing the same hand everytime, this went on for ages.  I asked what the score was – it was a draw 😉  I think it remained a draw no matter what.  I got speaking to them, the wee man wanted to chuck himself off the hill into the water, you know, the hill was THAT bad, they had been walking for aaaaages!! Hahaha he was very dramatic but clearly having a good time and being distracted by his sister.  With words of encouragement, I pushed on that day exchanging jokes with the mums as I passed’.

I tempered my pace coming down the other side of Conic Hill, I didn’t want to burn out my quads this early in the race.  I was happy to meet G as I was coming down the last wee section, we came down to the car park and I was shocked to see everyone standing at the checkpoint.  I must have looked so ungrateful for the cheering/ support.  I dibbed in, I couldn’t get my head around, in that moment, why people were cheering for me as I came in.  Of course, I would do the same for anyone on a race, so I dont know why I was suprised, I think the early hour was still throwing my expectations for this race.

G guided me to the car which was really helpful, I grabbed a seat, changed my tops, on went my RAW Dryrobe, this let me dry of my sweaty jacket.  Karen drilled me with multiple questions about what I needed and then supplied in quick order.  G became a french chef, and apparently had also developed a spanish accent – who knew! Scrambled eggs became the order of the morning – they tasted awesome. It was funny looking around, seeing what everyone else was doing, some were in and out in minutes, these types of things make me question my own strategy even though I should know better than to compare myself to others. I was obviously sleepy, trying to drink my cuppa through my midgie net, this was the only section I was aware of midgie but know the crew had it worse with more standing around.

Balmaha to Rowerdennan

This was my awful section, I left the Oak Tree Inn car park feeling great, Karen ran me down to the road, she was chief photographer as well. #everyoneneedsakaren #multipleroles

I was hit with waves of tiredness, not in the sense that my body felt tired but purely from a ‘I should be sleeping’ feeling.  They just kept coming, I didnt know how to deal with these – definitely something to work on for the future.  I started having stomach issues, from feeling nausea to cramps, sometimes I could run through it but most of the time I couldn’t. Then the waves of tiredness would kick in again.  I think part of this was the low light due to the clouds and dull day, which made it harder to feel like it was daytime.

I’ve never been so grateful for seeing my support crew, it was here that they made the first of their massive impacts on my race.  G’s constant check-ins so that he could update Karen and then asking ‘how can we fix this’ really helped to focus on the solutions rather than the problem.  A real cup of tea, a ton of jaffa cakes, maybe a few other things I cant remember.  This little blip also didnt stop them from getting the right information to me. Because of my stomach I hadnt managed to eat much on this section, so they sorted my water (this was at least going well) and drilled me about my food.

I left with ‘get a couple of good sections in and EAT!’  It wasnt ideal that I wouldnt be seeing these guys for 3.5 hours.

Rowardennan to Beinglas Farm

Rowardennan to Inversnaid along the lower section next to the Loch was great.  I accepted that you wouldn’t maintain the same pace as on the trails but this brought me alive.  This section had a bit of everything in it, each time I came out of a technical section where I had to concentrate, onto the trail I would be hit with the waves of tiredness.  I got into Inversnaid, the marshalls were once again fab.  Always cheery, always with a wee joke and checking that you are alright on the other hand (clearly a lover of the hula hoop variety).

Did the essentials: emptied stones out of shoes, tied alittle tighter, Packed the food from my drop bag into my pockets, topped up the water, deep breaths and of I went.  I was looking forward to this section, the only part I had not recce’d.

This section did not let me down. I absolutely loved this part, which appears contrary to most other reports.  Again, this brings me alive, I love pushing on on these sections. Very stony section, some clambering involved, I think I was more careful than normal as I wanted to save my ankle for the rest of the race and not do myself some damage. I still had a wee hop, skip and a jump in my step on this section.  It felt good to be actually moving, to feel like I was moving.  I caught up with a young man and we stayed together for a bit.  I can’t believe I never caught anyones name during this event – tut tut, but he was telling of his fantastic progress from knee injury to the race.

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Photo credit: Karen Brown

This was a great confidence boost section for me, it was a nice feeling to come out at the end of the loch. Beinglas Farm checkpoint was a good one, I was feeling tired still but definitely more awake.  G once again, told me the script with where I needed to go to dib in and then where they were based.  At this point Karen and G tried to get some more solid food and energy into me . . good ole swig of coke aparently brought colour to my cheeks.  This is where I had started to feel my IT band in and around my hip.

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Photo credit: Karen Brown

Thankfully I brought my trusty spiky ball with me, Karen sorted out my comfort and a good bit of easing this off helped.  Great banter going on between the crews which distracted me.

Beinglas through Auchtertyre to Bridge of Orchy

With a change of shoes, full top half change, I set off on my way to the ‘half way point’.  I like this next section it is beautiful, lots of waterfalls and just flowing rivers, its beautiful.  Again I felt like I was checking off the memories I’d created on my recce, it seemed to pass all too quickly.  It is a lovely downhill through the forest toward Auchtertyre, again I enjoy this section, this was affected by my increasing problem with my IT band which had now shift into my knee.

G met me again and ran me in, guiding me to where I needed to be.  First up was my weigh-in, where I was told I had dropped to my allowance already.  I couldnt believe it

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Photo credit: Karen Brown

because I didnt feel I could have done anything else to improve this situation.  Well G took away the ‘feed me’ with gusto haha.  Some TLC for my IT band, heard about a mishap with the gas cooker the crew had had, this was enough to distract me.

G and I were soon off for the next phase, what a massive difference it makes having someone run with you. I was super glad to have company, I definitely ran further than I would have on my own with my sore knee becoming an increasing problem.

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Photo credit: Lucja Leonard

We met Lucja at Tyndrum with salty chips, hell yeah, they were immense and it was real nice to see her before we properly got underway.  This section was one of changeable weather, rain, increasingly stronger winds and sunshine.  G did a great job of keeping me going, I took over the lead on the downhill section because I tend to be faster and only had to slow up when the pain in my knee just took over. We kept crossing places with a couple of lads but had to let them go on as I was in agony and struggling to walk never mind anything else.  G came to the rescue with his massage skills, right on that spot! I’d highly recommend his skills.

Many will recognise the pain of It band problems, it was frustrating as I was sure this is what it was.  The pain you feel just doesn’t seem to represent the seriousness of the injury/ problem in the relativity scale which is frustrating in and of itself.  The pain laterally piercing me knee repeatedly brought me to a halt, I would stumble through as much as possible, G was working real hard to keep me going, no way I was stopping if I could make the next point.

We broke the route up into sections that I would run – walk, G took the hit on the wind where he could but the closer we got to Bridge of Orchy the more the wind began swirling.  Absolute superstar, always positive, pushing me just enough to get the most from me in achievable bursts.

Bridge of Orchy (BoO) to Glencoe Ski Resort

At BoO I dibbed in again to the cheery words of the marshalls. I didn’t do much at BoO, it was quite an exposed checkpoint with the weather coming in but also with the car being parked away from where we met.  G did a handover with Lucja in terms of where I was at, Karen sorted me out in terms of food and fluids and checked if there was anything I needed.

We didn’t stop long, Lucja took me off up the hill with the promise of Jelly Baby hill, now as a first-timer, it’s all a bit confusing.  What on earth?!

We marched, Lucja may disagree with this word haha, up the hill, moving at a pace I could sustain.  I was pretty much feeling pain in my knee uphill and downhill but with adjustments in pace I could keep going.  Lucja was great at speaking away keeping me distracted, I had known I wouldn’t be running out of BoO when I did my recce, I kept trying to push my pace so as not to feel I was too slow, I have to confess to many a time worrying I was going to slow and letting my support crew down.  Do others feel this way? Or do you just accept that they are there for you?

I met Murdo (I really hope I quoted the right name???)  on Jelly Baby hill, now I knew. What a glorious sight at the top of the hill, jelly babies, smiles, flags and naturally he checked I was being looked after.  We ploughed on, into the wind, I was feeling a little hesitant for the downhill coming, the complete opposite of my normal downhill reaction (normally I’d be doing a wee dance). We started downhill, I think you would call my run more of a hobble, a skip and step over and around the stones/ corners. We made it to the bottom, I’d earned a walk period again. I’d hoped being on the tarmac would be a bit of a relief, we broke it up with walk- runs and caught up on runs, future runs and of course Gobi.

We arrived at the entrance to Rannoch Moor, with the trail on the left to Loch Etive.  This’ll give you a chuckle and I think I laugh myself every time I arrive at this point:

‘During my recce, which I was doing back to front ie Glencoe Ski Resort to BoO, the signage is a shocker going in the opposite direction for a ‘well-marked’ path.  Anyway, obviously my fault but I ended up waaaaaay too far down that track, but with beautiful scenery and wildlife.’

‘The second time I recce’d this section, in the correct direction I might add, at this point on the left in the forest there was a young deer munching away, completely oblivious to the fact we were all awestruck with his beauty.’

This is the straw that  .  .  .  .  . almost broke the camels back ie my leg. How so much can change in such a short time!

I knew my leg was becoming more and more of a problem, I hated the ground underfoot in this section, I was never comfortable on it and I also found it difficult to gauge how far along we were after a while but that could be tiredness more than anything.  We kept trying the walk – run method but that quickly became impossible with the pain it was causing.  It was affecting my ability to bend my knee to lift my foot high enough over the embedded stones, I kept trying to find the smoothest section to walk on but often these were so narrower I’d be tripping over the edges and that in itself affected my movement and knee.  I couldn’t win.

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Photo credit: Lucja Leonard

The weather was in, rain, wind, yes there was even moments of sunshine.  Sideways rain, battering our left hand side, I swear my right hand side was pretty dry until closer to Glencoe. Putting one foot in front of the other – I could do that! Finally we spotted G waiting for us, he took us to dib in, they kindly asked how we were doing. Actually, at the very point, I felt not too bad. But that very quickly changed. Karen, Lucja and I headed for the toilets to get changed were told about the drying room – OMG what an invention! This was fantastic, Karen pretty much stripped me and dressed me while Lucja dried herself under the hand dryer. But I started to feel sick and actually thought I was going to be sick, we hurried over to the toilets but I wasn’t actually sick.

We went to find G who had started to worry about where we had gotten lost, apparently it took 40mins for all of the above to take place and he was feeling like a weirdo holding seats for people who never seemed to appear hahaha.

The guys were buying me food, encouraging me to eat, I managed to get down most of my soup in the cafe but struggled with anything else.  I was feeling ridiculously nauseous and sick, it just wouldn’t settle. I know they were worried – I could tell by the looks on their faces. We knew my time goal was out, I was a bit of a mess and now know I probably can’t really grasp how I looked or the impact this was having on them.  We went through a list if possible ways to move forwards, this included going for a 30 minute kip, with my time goal out, I had time to do this without having to pull out completely.  It also meant even if I didn’t feel better I could pull out at that stage having tried the options.

I slept, I ached to start with, felt sick and couldn’t switch off to sleep at first despite being knackered. Then I was out, then I was awake the next second – or so it seemed. G woke me up  and we headed back to the cafe, it was very busy, full of walkers and runners. My RAW dryrobe was amazing during this period keeping me warm.  I was informed by hawk eye G that I must eat a decent meal to carry on, then I was told I needed to layer up more.  The guys were still worried and I’m super sorry to have put them through that worry. I dutifully did as I was told and to be honest I felt much better, my knee was sore but it felt slightly better since my sleep.

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Photo credit: Graeme Maxwell

They agreed I could go on, we had decided pre-race that I needed to let my crew make some decisions for me when or if I I was deemed not able. This was one of those scenarios.  I trusted them wholeheartedly to make the right decision based on the information in front of them. It was my constant worry that I was placing too much pressure on them and asking too much of my crew.

Glencoe Ski Resort to Kinlochleven

We decided I could go on with multiple layers, I believe everyone was being told to put waterproofs on anyway.  So I left Glencoe with a vest, running t-shirt, running long-sleeved top, my new running jacket, my normal running jacket and G’s amazing tent waterproof haha, plus hat, buff, gloves and multiple hoods.  We were good to go, we had also accepted I probably couldn’t run much, if at all with all the pain in my knee.  It had developed into pain on two areas at the back of my knee and laterally on the knee. But walking down the entrance drive to the ski resort and I felt my knee wasn’t as bad as when I had stopped.

I told G we could try running a bit along the tarmaced sections to Kingshouse hotel – it worked! Get IN!! I was pleased as I knew when we went off road again it was likely I wouldn’t be able to. At the back of the hotel G pointed out a deer crossing the river, pretty amazing to see, then another deer popped out behind the bridge, simply stunning to see these guys in the area.  We also spotted a small herd over by some trees, I love this, it make being in nature, the trails worth all the runs.  We overtook some folks as we headed along the bottom to the Devils Staircase, we were walking at a decent pace.  Head down, one foot in front of the other, this was again a confidence boost, small as that may be but I’ll take that as a small win along the way. Karen and Lucja met us at the bottom of the staircase just to do a last check to make sure I was okay.   Thumbs up!

We headed up the staircase, I felt bad for G, this wasn’t how we had recce’d this section. G was a master on the hills, he had tenacity and just plots on, exactly why I knew he was the best guy for me on this section. We were walking, G leading so that all I had to do was follow.  Apparently, I didn’t do that very well either, oops!

500 m from the top there was a sign for a cafe at the top, surely a joke right? Apparently not, we had a laugh at this, over the top I ate, G regularly checked I was drinking and eating. I think we had a wee jog down the other side, it was hard. We had slipped into our usual patter when running/ walking together, calling out any obstacles, points to note, this is how we roll and we generally extend this same courtesy to anyone beside us as well.  It work S for us, good communication helps each of us to take the best path to our goal.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t take advantage of the great downhill into Kinlochleven, I was also feeling that I could literally fall asleep on my feet, insert the ‘alphabet game’, great distraction. We had agreed I needed to be open and upfront when I wasn’t feeling great so that the guys could help me rather than trying to bang on quietly.  It was fantastic to reach Kinlochleven with an indoor checkpoint, weigh-in – my weight was back up – superb!

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Photo credit: Karen Brown

I sat down and caught up with Karen, G did a hand over again, I got 10 mins nap while the others had a laugh at my expense. I woken with some amazing noodles!

Kinlochleven to Lundavra

Lucja was up next, it was a long climb out of Kinlochleven, we climbed and climbed, got a little lost but managed to get quickly on track again.  It was over to the Larig Mor, I thought we had seen the worst of the weather but no, at points we were literally stopped dead in our tracks by the wind, most the tracks had turned into mini streams with the rainfall. Thankfully I had worked out if the weather was bad that this section would be a wet one – trail shoes were a good bet. We had given up talking because it was impossible to hear each other. So it was heids down and just keep going. It just seemed to go on and on for ever, we were over the weather and that section.

19727067_10210233917832486_1644814496_oLundavra to Lochaber Sports Centre (Finish)

Karen had the final shift, she was very positive and full of energy despite having also been up for hours within only small amounts of sleep.  As we walked along every so often I’d catch my foot and she would turn to ensure I was still standing.  When I look back, it feels like we got through the last section well but I know it didnt feel like that at the time.  When we arrived at the final downhill section in Fort William I was keen to try a little run – walking – what a waste not to run downhill.

I couldn’t do it, it was simply too painful, with the pain now coming in at the back of my knee. So, to the finish line it was to be a hobble – to experience crossing the finish line, I was happy with that.

Not how I wantedt but theres time for that . . .

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Photo credit: taken by finish line photographer on mobile.

Run Rabbit Run

Once again, I am excited to introduce you all to a good friend of mine, Jeni, I am always blown away by her running exploits.  They put me to shame, I love hearing about her upcoming goals and dreams.  We first met a few years ago through a mutual friend and from there I have followed Jeni’s journey through trail running.

Get a wee squiz on Jeni’s fab achievements and learning her why . . . 19619751_10155397983105775_2051904924_o

1. When did you first get involved in sport/ exercise/ physical activity?

In 2005 I found myself in front of a mirror and saw myself for the first time in a very long time, I didn’t like what I saw.  Many struggles of life had occurred before that point but the truth was I was unfit, lumpy, grey, dull and needing to lose some weight.  I changed my lifesty19650506_10155397982840775_64886262_oe for the better and along with some gym stuff I found running was most convenient for my life.  So I ran a few 10k races, they were tough.  I completed a half marathon in Glasgow and I was destroyed, it wasn’t good, I ran other in Aviemore a few weeks later and had to walk half the way due to pain.  I gave up running that day.  In 2011 I found myself in-front of a mirror again, I was 14 stone, I had a 6 month old baby and a 2 yr old.  My youngest had a bad start in this world and we struggled through 6 months of hospital visits and zero rest.  I was tired, fed up, depressed, and lacking in energy.  A couple of pals (Donna; who introduced me to the inspiration behind these questions; Louise) encouraged me to hit the gym and join JogScotland.  So I did…. In 8 months I had lost 5 stone and had completed my jog leader qualification and was back to work, happy, and running….

2. I know you through your fantastic and inspirational running exploits, can you tell us more about your journey through running?  

I have a passion for mountains and big days out, I wanted to have the strength to run further to make hill days count for more, fell running was my goal and I knew ultra-distance would be good for me.  In 2014 I ran my first Ultra (D33).  I ran 2 ultra-marathons that year and to be honest I found it tough and mentally awful.  The following year I ran a few more; I visited some beautiful places through events such as the Highland Fling race,19692191_10155397983125775_47539126_n Speyside way, Jedburgh 3 peaks and Glenmore 24; many many lessons were learned that year as I found I loved running further, I absolutely loved the ultra-family who adopted me with little bribery.  I loved the events but I felt I could be using my running for a greater cause.  Then 2016 happened.  It was never the plan to run as much as I did and I properly do not condone it as it nearly broke me, but in a mission to complete a charity challenge I had the goal of running 70 miles a week.  On paper, ultra races would help to cover those miles, I absolutely would not race, I would have company (I was already feeling isolated in my village), it would be fun, there would be bling and I get to check out awesome places…. so it was a no brainer at the time; enter loads of events throughout the year till my 5000km year was filled; BOOM.  I finished my challenge and ran the distance as well as raising £7000 for MNDScotland, I am still so grateful to all those that helped me and although I was mentally and physically broken I felt at peace.  Oh and I won the Scottish UltraMarathon Series for the lassies…

I now focus my charity work towards mental health charities as I have struggled myself over the years and running has helped me to work through some of my issues.  Makes sense to support others.

3. Do you have anymore running goals in the coming months and years?

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My goals this year are to heal my mind and soul, I need a year to get a normal life back and let my body recover properly.  I have started to prepare for mountain marathons and completed the L

one Alpine Mountain Marathon a few weeks ago.  We tackled the top head on and entered the A class, probably a bad idea for your first one but I loved it.  I am also having a shot at the Salomon skyraces in the Lake district which again could be a complete disaster but I know I will enjoy the adventure whatever happens!  It is after all only running.  Next year my goals are to complete a 100 mile race and have a bash at actually racing it.  Then its all about the mountain rounds for me, starting with the Ramsey round, then Bob Graham and if I survive then its the Paddy Buckley!

4. What would you say to women/ anyone wanting to get started in running but is thinking ‘I’d never be able to do that’ or they fear being last?

I have started and stopped a few times now, every-time I gave up was due to being under trained and lacking knowledge of what I was taking on.  Since training properly and taking as much advice as possible I find I can run distances more comfortably.  So don’t give up, you can do it but you need to put the work in.  Every runner starts the same, we all start struggling that first mile and some days its as hard to run that first mile as it was all those years ago.  As for being last, I’ve been last plenty, and you know what its not that bad.  I read a great article once and will never forget the lesson.  It was about putting more value on a PW (personal worst) than a PB (personal best) performance.  When your oranges are down (an orange represents a reason not to run, if you have 3 or more reasons not to venture out then don’t… could be tiredness, an over run meeting, a cold… anything) and your race/run is terrible and you achieve a PW then actually you have gained more, so be proud that you did it.  You got out and battled against all odds.  Always remember those who actually can’t run, do it for them!  Do it for your heart; mentally and physically.

5.  What does running give you?

Mentally running is very very important to me, any exercise in fact has been a blessing.  It helps me process my day, mostly I’m quite happy and I like to think through my endless ‘to do’ lists and plan my next adventures while running.  Some days I don’t cope with being on planet Earth very well and if I go for a run in the woods or up a hill its all sorted and I find I’m able to give myself a good talking to.  Life is always better after a reality check in the hills.

Physically I’m now fitter than I have ever been, I turned 40 this year and I’m delight19686267_10155397982950775_294395409_oed to feel that I’m improving my running and I hope that by the time I’m 60 I’m still gunning for big adventures and gaining personal bests.

Socially, I am grateful to running, I currently partake in long distance events that are as off road as possible.  Through this I have made some amazing lifelong friends.  Adventures and shared experience give us a connection that is very special and I do whole heartily admire, respect and love those who take time to get to know me and hang out while on the trails.  I’ve been lucky to have fallen in with a crazy bunch who enjoy meeting up regularly and am lucky to have many chums across the country.  I must add in that marshaling at these events also helps my socialization on the planet and I encourage anyone wishing to run far to try marshaling first to gain insight to our ultra world; this is my only regret and wish I’d helped sooner.

Thank you to Jeni for bring my ‘Women In Sport Week’ blog series to a close (ahem, albeit Im late on this).

The primary aim was always to celebrate the successes and amazing feats of those who are around us every day.  I think sometimes we can forget just how much inspiration can be taken from our friends, our families or our colleagues.

Thank you everyone, I hope you enjoyed this little series as much as I did.

Ending on a Fail?

It kinda feels like an omen for 2017 doesnt it?!

It is always my hope that what I have been doing helps someone, one person is enough to make a difference.  One person impacts the people around them, the knock-on or domino effect.  As for the Marathon des Sables, many ask why should people pay for me to go and have fun, to go and do events I wouldn’t normally afford.  This is about so much more than running in events, it is raising the profile, raising awareness of a charity/charities and some monies.  It is doing something that some see as impossible, a massive stretch to the human body.

Without the support of those who have donated, given their time, their conscious effort to make a difference and to help I would not have gotten as far as I did.  It is with great sadness and a feeling of letting others down, of failing my charities, that I say I did not manage to secure sufficient funds to attempt this challenge – #80degrees.  However, I am very grateful to the sponsors for trusting me to secure the funds to enter the event in January 2018 – I have a goal.

In addition to my friends, clients and those sponsors, a big mention must go to Vickie Saunders.  Vickie is behind The Sponsorship Consultants, they work with individuals such as myself and but also many top level athletes.  Vickie has been instrumental in shaping my perspective on sponsorship.  She has shown me and illustrated that all is not as it seems.    You do not have to be the winner of every race, you do not need to be or have to be a household name to secure sponsorship.  Vickie has taught me a huge amount about connecting with teh right people, that everyone has worth and connects with others, thank you!

#80degrees (My name for the challenge) was meant to be my next challenge to further raise awareness of the fantastic work carried out by DAMH (Dundee Association for Mental Health) and SAMH (Scottish Association for Mental Health).

These two events are run by David Scott through his company Sandbaggers – check them out if you are looking for something different. An 80 degree turnaround!

Running through the Namibian desert in +40 degrees with a second marathon at -40

degrees in Outer Mongolia.  The mental strength, capacity and determination to do these types of challenge mimics real life.  My experience in the Sahara is testament to this.  I have tried to ultilise and speak of my own experiences with mental health to demonstrate that those who face these challenges do not always fall into the stereotypical ideas that society has.

Mental health challenges and welbeing affects people from all walks of life.  We bounce back and sometimes we don’t so quickly (By the way this is not a reach out – Im all good).

I have much to keep me busy in the coming year, so this is a failure?

No, it is an opportunity to grow, refelct, evaluate and improve my approach to come back stronger and more knowledgeable.  If you would like to keep up to date, I will endeavour to be better at posting my blogs.  I am being published by Positively Scottish so keep an eye out on there also.

Whats coming up:

My Marathon des Sables experiences

My prep for #80degrees

Training for the West Highland Way (June 2017)

Deadwater (July – Aug 2017)

Finally but by no means least, a huge THANK YOU to my sponsors who have stayed on board to ensure we can continue to raise the profile of DAMH and SAMH.

Heal Physiotherapy                                                  Carol S & Kay L and many more fundraising

Bloc eyewear                                                               Murroes Primary School

Icebug UK/                                                                   Running Sisters Tayside

Clarks Bakery                                                             Henrys Coffee House

The Gas Technology Partnership Ltd.

 

 

 

 

Women Run Strong – Great Event!

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What better day to post this blog than International Women’s Day!  A post on an event called Women Run Strong!!  Think about that for a second, what do those words mean to you?  All the positives, the supportive environment, lacking judgement or pressure, first or last – all supported, no timing – ‘Just Run’

I hope you all had a lovely Mothers day on Sunday?  Including all of you lovely ladies who may not be mothers!!  I loved hearing about all the races that took place, I was over in Edinburgh for 2 reasons:

Support clients who were running Women Run Strong Edinburgh run. (As a personal trainer)

Support my sponsor Women Run Strong in their first Edinburgh run.

I arrived in Edinburgh in the safe hands of Shauna and Daniel, our key supporter!!  We headed into The Crowne Plaza in Edinburgh, well, this was like no other run registration I have ever been to.  Very civilised – brilliant – but also very relaxed!  Avril who runs Women Run Stong has done a fantastic job of creating a community with the facebook group for those signed up to run, you get to know faces, names and whats happening with the run.

This is ideal, I know many of you will agree, it can be pretty intimidating turning up at a race event on your own.  Not here, you knew faces, everyone incredibly welcoming.  Not only that water, tea and the best – biscuits available to munch.  You can tell I am sold already haha.  Sign-up was an easy affair, we then waited on the rest of the crew to appear.

12799071_1710395169172525_4538943199466152473_nNot only that but you’ll never guess who I managed to run into – Cathy from  The Art of Communication! Wonderful to be a part of her 6th event out of the 50 planned this year!  Here is the epitome of ‘Women Run Strong’, I always think its nice to run i12806103_1096537113745035_2572782224698782507_nnto people you know at events.  Not only that I got to meet people I have been communicating with on social media.  I love making new friends!

I was lucky enough to meet Lucja, who has run in the Marathon des Sables previously AND is going back this year.  Nice to know I’ll know someone out there.  I think I picked her brains, well and truly, it was a revelation to be honest (Ill keep that for another time).  We were then led down to the start line, a very short walk away at the base of Arthurs Seat.

 

Wow! We had an amazing day for our run, there was no pressure on this run and I already knew I wanted to push but at the same time I had been nursing a sore back all week and didnt want to cause myself any further issues.  But also, I already knew I’d be stopping to take pictures along the way and wanted to talk with folks.  I honestly felt sluggish in this run, quite possibly my lack of exercise all week.  The views were simply – Outstanding!  We could not have had a better day for todays run, the sun shone, you could see for miles, the company was fantastic – I spoke with so many women today.  All different levels and experience.  The marshalls were massively encouraging and really brought a smile to your face as you rocked up and either gave you a jelly baby or some water and encouraged you on your way.

Did I say the views were spectacular?  Just in case you wondered .  .  .  . so were the hilly sections hahaha!  Phew, I now know why there was a massage included in your cost.  We all supported each other and stomped on, after the most dramatic of hills it became more undulating but still hilly.  I am not sure even I am making sense here.  I spoke with a lovely lady who said that despite the fact she trained around Arthurs Seat, she had in fact not been on the trails we covered, so a real positive there.  I can see this would have been a harder route in wet conditions.

A run out back to the hotel entrance, where I managed a wee sprint race with a fellow runner to finish well – always good, maybe.  And the prosecco, oh the prosecco!  What better way to finish the run than to be welcomed back with a glass of the bubbly stuff.12794416_1096537653744981_3411775268710125603_n

Quick sip, passed to Avril (I think she is still saving this for me 😉 )off I went back for my crew.  Louise’s PT 4 U motto – ‘NO-one gets left behind’.  This has been a long held motto an done I am very proud of.  Everyone of the girls did well today, for some their first run, we had 2 in the 5km and 2 of us did the 10km.  We did well and supported each other – the important part.

Are you getting what Women Run Strong is about? If not, why not pop over to the website or Women Run Strong facebook  or even come along to one of their runs!  Don’t just take my word for it, I asked my clients for some feedback, here’s what they said –

‘I’ve just completed the Women’s Run Strong 10km run in Edinburgh today. My first trail run and something I thought this time last year was beyond my physical reach. The event was beautifully organised, Avril and her team were superb from the swift registration to the jelly babies stop,  the excellent marshalls and the prosecco and massage waiting at the end. It was a tough run with killer hills but the views from the top were just spectacular well worth the effort. Another stand out factor was the team spirit amongst the runners, everyone actively encouraging and supporting each other. A run I would certainly do again.’ (Pauline A)

‘Women Run Strong? Well, on Sunday I think I was only hopeful of achieving 1/3 of those!! And even then only just!!

Having initially signed up for the 10k I could have easily pulled out as training in January & February was a non event. But I didn’t! Knowing that a buff, a glass of bubbly and a massage were also signed up to, I swallowed my pride and decided I would at least venture out on the 5k – that had to be easier than the unprepared for 10k? Yes? Hmm … I’m not sure!!

For someone who likes jogging on a flat tarmac route with a strong tailwind … what greeted me was something quite different!! The words “trail” and “hill” were order of the day!!! I think “brutal” best describes what I was muttering as I WALKED slowly up the 150m steep ascent to a fabulous view across Edinburgh! Waiting for me at the top was Shauna … a huge smile on her face cheering me on! And the view was spectacular!!

We crossed the finish line together … even managing a wee sprint to the tray of bubbly!! At 6.3k it is safely the longest (and hardest) 5k I have ever run … or run a bit of anyway!!! I’m not even sure it was easier than the 10k … but I wasn’t going to test that theory out when it got to the “10k that way / 5k this way” point! With a leg massage now firmly in my sights the 5k route was the only way home for me! Once again, if it hadn’t been for Shauna, I don’t think the leg massage would have happened for me as the queue was long and the clock was ticking on me having to get back to Dundee! But it happened and I got home with minutes to spare!

Anyway, asides how brutal I felt the run was and how underprepared I was … it was a fabulous event … location, people, massage, friendly faces, give aways and doing it with a wee crew of people who really don’t leave you behind (even when you would be quite happy to be left behind to find a flat route home!).

It was genuinely a lovely morning … a very relaxed gathering of women joining together to have a good time … from walkers to hard core runners … some idiot even ran with a bright yellow 8kg back pack on and looked like she was wearing about 20 layers of clothes – I’m sure I overheard her asking where the nearest sand dune was!? You see them all at these events, you really do!’ (Nicola R – I was ggoing to cut this down but actually, it gives you context and the reality of the day).

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Chequered Flag Series 2 Duathlon

1501299_759047394203267_8311287623378255292_o At the end of a busy week, if I am being completely honest this was the last thing I wanted to be doing.  I was shattered and hadn’t trained all week, recovering from Tough Guy The Original 2015.

But my best mate had said I ‘better not pull out’ after many of the rest of the team had pulled out.  So naturally and just as I had been telling clients and TMT competitors, help each other be accountable.  Be that positive friend, support each other to achieve more.  I am so glad we went!

 

This was incredibly different from the series 1,  we knew this was to be the cross-country event as it were, but little did we realise what we had let ourselves into.  For me, this was a fun event, one that I signed up to do to support the team I had entered.  Without the pressure of trying to really drive, its been great fun, just taking it all in and interacting with others.

Registration was smooth as could be and it was great to see some of the Alloa bootcamp crew (fellow Tough Guy competitors)  who were marshalling.  We prepped and set up the bikes and did something that resembled a highly inadequate warm-up.  Yes, I know shocking, this should highlight where my head was at.  But I was there and that was the main thing.  Again, everyone looked very serious, however, it was their sport – Triathlon – Duathlon.  Well equipped, wearing all the right clothing and there to do well amongst their peers.  Nevertheless, this is not to say it was only those who were serious about the event.  It was a very friendly race, everyone chatting and encouraging each other.  Shouts from the sides from those who knew you and those who don’t is always vital I think to help push you on when you are feeling tired.

 

We lined up in front of the Knockhill Race track lights . . .  then we were off.  I felt heavy-legged and stiff, not surprising but it still felt great to get out there and run.  It didn’t take long to run.  It is definitely an undulating course that had some tough hills which take it out the legs before you realise it.

 

Twice around the race track before getting to the bikes.  Despite the fact it was cross-country series, we still had the heaviest and potentially most beginner type bikes for want of a better description, for this event.  I hadn’t been on my bike for some time, potentially even going back to the Coast to Coast/ last duathlon.  As soon as I started the first lap of the route I knew it was going to be pretty daunting, the tracks were really muddy and you constantly felt like you were sliding laterally . . . .  not even sure if it was my imagination or actually I was?????

 

The cycle route itself was 5 laps of an off-road circuit – tough – very tough! Lots of inclines, twists and turns, which for those of us that don’t spend much time on a bike, is pretty tricky.  You think you are trying to go one way but end up sliding in another direction.  I was very proud to say I didn’t have to get off and push once, not once on the tricky off-road climb.  The grooves and tracks, which I thought would make it easier actually made it harder to get a constant cycle going.  Coming back around to complete my first lap, I actually felt physically sick and believe I may have swore alot.  I couldn’t see much as the mud sprayed my face.        10923709_759041674203839_8392248298838804033_o

5 Laps later, I have never been so glad to get on the running section.  It was the final lap of the track and it appeared that practically everyone had finished already from the bikes missing in the hanger.

The legs were protesting at having to run the last lap but I managed to get into a good groove and plug it out.  It was great!  Felt good to cross the finish line!

 

 

 

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Naturally, I supported my fellow teammate and bestie round her last lap – ‘No-one gets left behind’.  Massive well done to Karen, I know she found it tough and daunting at points but she never gave up.  That is the right attitude!

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The marshalls at this event were simply fantastic, the weather was on our side, everything was smoothly run making this event very simple and easy to take part in!

Highly recommend series 3 folks:

http://www.entrycentral.com/event/103037

100 Mile Challenge – The Cotswolds Way – Day 3 & 4

Day 3

It has been a while since I have been posting to my blog, simply because life, work, training all took over.  So the final installment of my 100 Mile Challenge, my big charity run is now here.  I have chosen to combine the last 2 days for reasons which will become apparent.  .  .  .  .

We woke on day 3 to what can only be described as torrential rain, a continuation of the weather we had run to our tents to sleep in.  I opened my eyes to the calming sound of rain bouncing of my tent but un-nervingly it was also causing my lining of my tent to stick to the outside sheet.  It was a case of pile on a load of clothes and run for breakfast.

At breakfast it was really quite inspiring to see so many folks brushing off the difficulties they had faced the previous day after hearing the stories told by Jamie McDonald(http://jamiemcdonald.org/).  Check out his website, pretty awesome guy!  I was not one of these people, a tired head maybe, I was sore, aching, hobbling when I walked. Lots of us were trying to get out early envisaging it being another awful day but purely due to the weather we were about to face.  The storm had finally found us!

The staff as always were incredibly helpful and cheery despite the weather.  I headed off at a weary pace while I could move well and actually felt like I found my rhythm quickly and it was back onto the trail.  We ran through a wooded area and onto a golf course, it actually felt at oints like you were running through a river, massive puddles, golfers with their huge brollies.  The rain was simply drumming down and I had to really pay attention as I felt it was difficult to work out your direction as the markers seemed few and far.

At some point the rain eased and it felt very mild, soaked through I began to enjoy myself, the cooling effect of the rain had really worked for me.  I clearly needed to get used to running in the mild heat.  Now this day I remmeber vividly because, well, I had to deal with the delicate matter of needing the toilet .  Of course I was, as mentioned soaked to the skin.  Now we all know there is nothing worse than hauling doon wet knickers for a piddle in the underbrush, actually praying, YES, I was praying that no-one would appear on the path from either end as they would have a clear view of me in all my glory!  NOT a pretty sight I have to tell you.  Not only that I managed to sting my arse on the nettles, aye not the best.  It was a now or never moment but on the other hand there was never going to be a never moment.

 

This day by far felt and was the shortest, I arrived at the camp along with several others ahead of the expected time. I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed day 3 way more, I think because of the coolness of the day and the weather, true scots.

 

I felt alot better after my run today, my legs had eased, it felt good, yes I ached but who wouldn’t after taking on this.  But I was tired, all through my run I had gone over and over the order I would do things when I got into camp.  Then I would re-think it, and again, and again.  It changed as soon as I arrived in camp for numerous reasons outside of my control and the best way forward?   Sleep!

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Day 4

 

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Day 4 was a strange day with the weather going on and off all day, now I mean ALL day!  I would leave each checkpoint dry and become soaked.  I started the day talking to myself over and over, giving myself a pep talk.  I had packed my bag, unpacked, re-packed it and repeat.  This was the longest day but also our final day.

 

There was a slight deviation to the route, this was fine, my mantra today was – ‘Do not get lost, do not get lost’.  In fact I had several, ‘keep going Louise’, everytime I passed an acorn, for some reason unknown to myself, ‘Carry on sir’ with a chuckle to myself.  Its the little things that keep us going.  For alot of today I would be on my own, with groups of folks in front or behind me to some degree.  Again, some incredible scenery, along the way.  I passed sections with telephone wires overhead, I swear they sounded like sizzling bacon!  I had a few dodgy moments on day 4, a few wobblers, I had to steady myself.

 

In fact coming up toward the half way checkpoint, I believe I lost myself for a period, almost got myself run over but I was still going.  Not intentional of course, it was a really bad section of road where cars flew round the corner, one minute clear, the next not.  It was a bad period in the run.  My head went down for a while, a long while it seemed.  I was working on, for example, checkpoint 1 out of 4, then 2 out of 4 = half way.  There was also a very long section I had to count down the miles on that section also.  I had to keep it in my head so that I was always, where feasible, I was making progress and winning.  It was tough, reall tough, I began to start hurting.  And then . . . . . .

 

 

I came to the bottom of a field and looked up, I couldn’t see another post but I could see loads and loads of cows!  All paths led to the cows, so off I went, only to find they were all hanging about at my next gate, hahah.  This cheered me up no end, while we eye-balled each other wondering who was moving.  Well I decided I wasnt spending all day witing and no one was appearing behind me to save me, damsel in distress style.

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This has to be one of my greatest feats to date.  To be able to push my own boundaries and combine this with raising funds for a local charity which is using physical activity to help their users is simply an amazing feeling!  I dont want to give too much away for those doing this in the future.  But without doubt I would highly recommend it!  As a runner I found it diffiuclt to adjust my mindset from a competitive one, but there was great banter from staff and fellow runners alike.  However, it is alittle dangerous – major discussion point is other races.

I had to dig deep to do this and complete my chosen task, remembering that so many people believed in me, they had sponsored me to complete this.  The more I focused on this the more determination and grit I was able to take from it and keep pushing.  Have  alook at my pictures, pop any comments or questions below and Ill get back to as many as I can.

 

Finally, I would like to say a MASSIVE thank you to every single person who sponsored me, who text me and motivated me and encouraged me.  For my feel good package I recieved on my return because I was full of the cold from day 3, simply to everyone who took the time to support and help me in any way.  I cant say how much I appreciate it.

 

 

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Facing Up in Aviemore . . in more ways than one!

 

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The weekend of the 12th of October saw a few of us, friends/ clients head over to Aviemore for the 10km/ half marathon race.  I haven’t entered this race for some time for personal reasons but decided this was the year when I saw that a friend was looking for volunteers to head over and make it a laugh.   I decided I could conquer my demons this time, lots of distraction combined with running – the best way I know to relax the stressed mind.  I signed up quickly before I could change my mind.  I was going with the aim of getting that PB that had eluded me at the Dundee Half Marathon after I had to give first aid to a young lad.  Which was naturally a choice I would make EVERY single time, the fact of the matter is that there was no choice.

 

The drive up was epic, in that we had all sorts of music, wind ups, a stop of for the ‘cloakrooms’, yes not toilets – we had entered a new world.   The views, as always on this drive, were simply captivating.  It just makes you want to take it all in, I was alittle apprehensive heading up to Aviemore, it holds alot of personal memories as I mentioned, some of which I have in the past struggled to deal with.  But as I have said I felt it was time to face them and I do love Aviemore, I was heading up with a group that would easily distract me 😉

 

I really feel alive as I head up into this area of Scotland, being close to the hills, out in the proper fresh, clean air, there’s something about it all that makes me feel invigorated.   Being surrounded by people who want to be active is brilliant!

 

Getting into Aviemore, there was alot of traffic, people were clearly arriving in their droves. Unfortunately, it was while we were in Aviemore, that I was literally sucker punched.  The chances of a face from my past being in Aviemore the same weekend I had decided to venture up had to be minimal, so I hadn’t expected it.  This was to throw a cloud over my weekend but I dug deep to see past this and not let it change the weekend.

 

Gareth from The Cairn Hotel in Carrbridge was fantastic, with brilliant customer service, he arranged for us to stay at a local self-catering  apartment, The Old School House, due to another group extending their stay.  It was 5 star and amazing, we were in our element and not least because the 3 of us staying there enjoyed rubbing in the fact that we had a hot tub to the rest of the group.

Oh yes!  But the most endearing aspect of it all was the 3 goats, hahaha, as Tornado would say -‘Its all about the V.’IMG_0904.JPG

Registration for the event was flawless, check out your name on the boards, head for your numbered table to collect your envelope and, if you were a sponsored entry, an Aviemore buff.  In the registration room at the MacDonald hotel was also a route map to confirm any queries, the helpers were friendly and fantastic!  Run4It had a mini shop set up and had lots of perfect kit for the run (hopefully no last minute purchases for untested kit) and as I have always found, great customer service.

We all met up at registration with some hilarious events – knew I would be distracted if only for moments at a time!! Visits to the toilets had turned out to be eventful.  We headed for food which was outstanding, lots of serious preparation for our runs the following day as you can see from theses pictures . . . . .

 

Some of the guys, headed off for a few more drinks after dinner while the three of us headed back to The Old School House.  Rolling galore to loosen of the tight muscles from our long travel that day.  I have to thank the facebook page ‘I love Foam Rolling’, they provided me with a roller to take away and use – brilliant.  Naturally, I shared this with my friends, important to share these benefits!

 

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(This is not me, however, aptly demonstrates the kind of faces I regularly witness and I am sure pull)

 

Our sleep patterns are massively important to our bodies ability to recover and prepare for our events. There is some research that sleep can affect the body’s ability to replenish our glycogen stores, affect focus, energy stores and recovery from hard workouts.  Unfortunately, my sleep was affected by reflection on the days events.  I hadn’t been able to let them go.

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(This was our amazing view that we woke to on the Sunday morning, seriously, what more could you want to see!)

This meant I was not as organised as usual before my race, we headed into Aviemore to get the bus to the race start.  It was getting super busy but the buses were moving efficiently and promptly.  Great system!  The race was at Rothiemurchus, again a beautiful area, a very necessary toilet queue.  The cold morning air just added to this need, it was stunning, the rest of the group had joined us, fully rested after their eventful night.  I was very nervous, worried I would bump it that familiar face, how would I deal with this event should it occur, what would I say – lots of scenarios went through my head like a revolving door with no escape.

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We were separated into our distance lines, this is where it gets even more nerve-wracking.  We are then walked along to the start area to the sound of a piper.  It was a fantastic morning, perfect weather for the run, crisp, dry and the sun was out.  I was worried that I would not be focused sufficiently to hit my PB target but all I could do right now is put one foot in front of the other and concentrate on the here and now.  At this moment I started listening to the people around me, one gentleman was discussing the disadvantages of buying new kit at the Run4It store and wearing them on race day, I had a wee chuckle to myself.

 

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In previous years the start had taken a wee while but we were off before I knew it.  Out along the forest track, curving through the forest. We were into an incline fairly quickly, the path was fairly rocky, loose stones underfoot and it wasn’t long before I saw a guy roll his ankle on a stone in front of me.  I think I actually exclaimed out loud, before running around him, but fair play he carried on.  (Damn it – I had worn too many layers, something I repeatedly advise my own runners about but often struggle with decision wise myself.)  I know this feeling, we then went into a downhill section.  This carried on for the next 6 miles, the most difficult sections for the half marathon runners are these start line – 6.5 miles.  This is the best I had ever felt on these hils but I felt my right glute tightening gradually but I was on target for my PB, I had to keep going.  It might loosen off and let me push it out as it had at the Edinburgh half marathon.  I utilised the downhill sections, arms out to help my balance and hugging the corners.  One girl spoke to me as we headed down the best downhill section and said that I was helping her with my pace but it was kicking my ass – LITERALLY!

The views really kept driving me forward, I love it!  The view of Loch Morlich with the sun glistening on the surface was amazing!  Lots of memories came flooding back as I ran this route, in some ways great and in others – not so great.  Important to focus on where the run is, the enjoyment of being in the surroundings that I was in, the beauty of the area, the people I was surrounded by, the fact I was there and able to run.

Gradually, I felt my glutes tighten and my leg became stiff.  It became difficult to move my leg forward and I began to limp/ run, I clamped down on that quickly as that would just lead me to more problems.  But as the race progressed I my hip then tightened up and started causing me no end of issues, I really had to push hard when I had hit the road section.  I had to dig really deep, concentrating on my technique, fighting for every step.  As I kept going I could feel my PB slipping away, frustratingly out of my reach, I nearly gave up on it, then I would kick myself up the ass and tell myself that wasn’t good enough, keep going.  Lots of the guys were out running today, aiming to do their best.  Now it was my turn, I had to do my best, my best means not giving up.

As we crossed the road to come under the railway bridge, I was really hurting by this point and I rounded the corner to hear, ‘Get your ass up the hill!!’ hahaha what a welcome sound, Lesley, a very longstanding client was there!!  She certainly knew how to get you moving.  She was there to support her cousin which is great but nevertheless I know we all found her words of motivation perfect at that time and location.  Then Pat was there with the pup, quietly cheering us on.  This was enough to pick me up, then over to the final stretch and I could hear clients shouting my name at various points and all of a sudden all I could think was, keep pushing the legs.

That was it, it was all over, incredibly sore, but I was keen to find everyone without moving too much.  The crew all did amazingly well!!  I love seeing people out there achieving their goals and pushing beyond what they initially thought were their limits.  New ones were created that day, new boundaries to once again defy.  The guys took part in some full body stretching, others attempting (yes I said attempting, to replicate some taught moves).

 

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This is a well run race, the marshalls are simply superb, high 5’s along the way to lift the spirits.  Supporters are fantastic, not justthose who know your name but every single person that claps you onwards and wishes you good luck is amazing.  Well done every single person who is involved in the organisation of a fantastic event.  In addition, all the many runners, who take part.  Thank you.

 

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My weekend finished on a high, where Tornado and I walked the forest trails around Carrbridge, taking in the scenery.  Had a fantastic meal at The Cairn Hotel, this was a very welcoming pub with great food.  We then headed back to the the luxury that was our 5 star accomodation.  We hit the hot tub for some well earned relaxation and recovery . . . . . .  one word – fabulous!

 

A brilliant weekend, if somewhat tainted by my own personal battles.  But you can not deny we truly live in a beautiful and spectacular part of the world.  We simply have to open our eyes and our hearts to appreciate it!

 

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