Saturday, 17 January 2015

Hebden 22 (again)

A wonderful, value for money, challenging event. 22 miles, over 4000 feet of up and down, technical trails, open moorland, lots of food at the checkpoints, tea and toast at the start and a hot meal at the end. Shall I stop now!

I travelled south from my home in south east Scotland to West Yorkshire on the friday afternoon, parked my van up in a free car park 200 yards from the start/finish of this race. And headed to the pub for seriously good cheap food and beers.

This event is organised by the Long Distance Walkers Association (LDWA) is can either be run or walked. What a fantastic organisation this is. The organisers and marshals are so friendly, enthusiastic  and helpful, which rubs off on the competitors. Everyone is there for the same reason and knows it. Fellow runners offer you food, hold gates open for you until you get there.

Race morning brings sleet down at race HQ, which obviously means snow up on the course. For once, I got my race kit spot on. From the ground up: Inov8 mudclaws never once slipped in the mud, snow or slush. Inov8 race tights with my trusty kilt to keep my arse warm. Three merino base layers and my Montane Polartec jacket. And of course, buffs ! One round my neck and one on my head (note folks: never run buffless)

The light snow showers continued on and off all day. Perhaps there was 2-3 inches right on the tops but it was not a problem. On the plus side, you could follow the tracks of the other runners more easily as this is not a straightforward, marked route.

My run? Well it went better than expected. I had quite a tough running year in 2014 and so have been taking it easy for a month. I ran this last year in 5 hours 5 and thought anything this side of 5:30 would be a good steeping stone to my first marathon of the year which is towards the end of February.

I just ran it by feel, without looking at my watch until 18 miles when I realised I was way inside last years time. For the record, I finished around 25 minutes quicker, which pleased,if amazed, me.

The course itself is quite something. In no particular order, you have to run across boggy moorland, open fields, pass through or over what seems like about a million stiles or kissing gates, descend steep woodland paths, climb killer steps. You get the idea !

Fancy it next year? Get in quick when the entries open as I know lots missed out this year as it filled up so quickly.

Not much in the way of photography I'm sorry!

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

2014 for Dunsrunner

Wow ! What a year that was. My only running goal at the outset was to try to continue my runstreak, started in late September, and complete 365 days of consecutive running. Many disagree with this sort of behaviour, saying rest days are essential, you must cross train etc etc. Well I'm hardly an Olympic athlete and I like running, so bollocks to that !

Like most runners, I have had injuries in my running life which extends to nearly 7 years now as I write (I was a very late starter). However, its no coincidence that my runstreak (day 466 today) began at the same time that I started seeing a fantastic chiropractor. What she does is so simple looking (of course its not and her diagnostic skills are immense), keeping me aligned so the stresses I put on my body are dealt with properly. This entirely appeals to my sense of understanding. The whole world seems intent on treating the symptoms and not the cause (and I'm not talking about running here). It appeals to my inner Dirtbag (see later !)

That runstreak goal was achieved, but the year was to provide me with many fantastic runs. My post work runs through the trails in Duns Castle estate were, and continue to be, so much fun. An ideal way to clear the head after work. Woods, hills, deer tracks, mud, very few people. Ideal to me.

Having run my first marathon in 2012, 2014 was the year I really took to the distance. I'd be lying if I said that I never hurt or had doubts in the six I ran. My thinking is if this doesnt hurt, I'm not doing it right !

The Osmotherley marathon ( in the North Yorks moors was special in that it was the first one I had run and felt happy with the way I executed it. It was topped off a few days later when I realised that I was first MV50. I was genuinely shocked and delighted in equal measure.

The Scafell Pike marathon is the highest marathon in England. This sticks in my mind for three reasons. Driving there in the morning I started thinking about it a bit, got a little nervous like I do on race day, but I was nearly there before I actually thought about it being marathon distance. I must have come some way if that wasnt worrying me. I liked that. It was beyond brutal in places and around 20 miles I started hoping for an injury so I had an excuse to stop. Never thought like that before or since. Thirdly, as I drove home battered and sore, I found myself smiling. The sense of achievement was more than I'd ever experienced. I found out a bit about myself that day.

And now for something completely different. The Thunder Run 24 or TR24 to its friends. I was supposed to be involved in this in 2013 but got injured (pre chiro days !). Its a simple event. Start midday Saturday, finish midday Sunday. In that period, run as many laps as you can of a 6 mile trail. There are solo nutters and there are pairs nutters who do this. I am not there yet and was part of a team of six ! It was a strange experience to run hard, have a few hours off and do it again. When do you eat? Try to catch a quick sleep? Must be ready for your lap. It throws the clock out of the window a bit. For example, I thought I was finished at 7 am and downed the sweetest bottle of beer in my life.
I've never had beer at that hour before (or since !), but it didnt feel like that hour at all. It turned out I wasnt finished and did run another, albeit gentle, lap.
Two memories from this fantastic event : 1) the feeling amongst the team was strong and at the end emotional. We had shared something great
and 2) the vibe about the whole event. Everyone was there for the same reason. I could add that my kilt went down well too !

Another first was running a marathon as a pair.
I guess we didnt have to actually run the whole event together but we had to check in to the finish together. Needless to say we did run together in the beautiful West Yorks moors. Chatting (or in my case listening !) during a marathon altered my perception of the time elapsed. How had we run 16 miles already, for example. This event stands out for me in that it is the strongest I've felt in a marathon. I would have quite happily run further.

My marathon PB was 4 hours 3 minutes, achieved in the 2nd one I ran in 2012. It was the Kielder marathon in the north of England. Its an undulating trail run on a good surface, but still manages to have 1700 or so feet of climb. I have only ever run one road marathon (Edinburgh 2013, dressed as a clown so dont ask !) and hated it, so if I was to have a pop at that PB it would have to be a trailie. Back to Kielder I went in October. I ran it fairly much to plan, although I did make a huge schoolboy error in that I chose shoes a tiny bit too small ! By half way, my feet were screaming. Almost exactly 3 months later, as I write this, both big toe nails are just hanging on. I have to wear socks in bed so that I dont rip them off ! Anyway I ground out a PB of 4:00:41. Whilst initially disappointed at being 42 seconds short of going sub 4, I am now quite pleased about that. Somehow it just sits well with me that I "nearly" did it but didnt. Keep your feet on the ground, son !

Late in the year I came across Dirtbagrunners. I'm not going to attempt to explain this because part of the beauty of this in my opinion is that its open to your own interpretation. Search it out yourself if you want to know more. I'm confident true dirtbags will find it. Anyway I'm delighted that they accepted me as an ambassador.

One last highlight of 2014 is that on Christmas Eve I ran my 2014th mile at an average climb of over 100 foot per mile.

I'm not sure what 2015 will deliver but I have plans. It'll do well to match 2014

PS I also grew a beard !

Monday, 3 November 2014

Helvellyn fell race 2014

I ran this race a couple of days ago, so here are some thoughts and feelings. I should find a few pics too.

This race is part of the "Dirty Double" weekend that is the finale of the series. By the time I entered, the Sunday Ullswater event was full. Ive run these before but find it hard to remember the courses. I remember sections but am never sure which race they are from so I effectively went into this race "blind".

The weather, as anyone who knows anything about the Lakes, can be anything and everything. All in a short time. Travelling down the weather was fine. I did hit a little rain, but that was after I'd turned off the M6 only to get back on it ! Muppet ! So 11 miles south to the next junction and 11 miles back north. Luckily I had plenty time.

I parked up and made my way to registration and was in time to see the 12pm start (there are 2 or 3 starts to accommodate more people on the narrow trails).  I was surprised by the numbers.

Now I had to think about clothing. It was pretty warm and dry but I knew we'd be going up where it would be cooler, windier and possibly wet. I decided on one merino base layer and my Inov8 jacket stashed around my waist. I'd already decided on Inov8 Orocs on my feet and so that proved right. They have small tungsten tips in the lugs that grip the wet rock superbly. They are a tad thin on the gravelly roads, but all in all a good compromise.

At the start I met the lad that reads my electric meter (like you do !) and chatted with the guys next to me in the start pen. No, none of us could remember the course despite all having run it before. A nervous girl beside me chatted saying how she's not long started running. A great place to be as everyone was there to go run up and down hills and were excited about it. I love the running community for this alone.

Race reports mile by mile aren't my thing. Too boring imo. Lets summarise as follows. 2 miles and 600 feet of climb up broken gravelly track followed by 2 miles down technical narrow rock strewn paths. Just so much fun for me as I really love that sort of descent. I have to concentrate so hard to find my footing, not fall and try to run fast too.

The second valley is more gentle but is very narrow on the way up and after the initial down section widens out to become a very fast finish, the last mile being road. I'd been running my own race, not killing myself, but perhaps not pushing myself hard enough (see finishing time). I let anyone who wanted to pass me to do so early on. After the first mile I was passed twice and took 20-30 place, which I was very happy with.

At the head of the second valley I noted my pace was sitting at 9.36 min/miles. I thought to myself "can you get sub 9?" That was my spur for the last section of the race. Well yes I managed to bring it down to 8.55. I was pleased but looking at my time in 2012, I see I was over 5 minutes slower !! WTF. Was I so in my comfort zone early on or is it just the ageing process ? A bit of both I suspect, however I am not too bothered as I really really enjoyed that race. It probably has everything for me: climb, fast technical descents and out and out fast sections. Its not too long or too short at just under 9 miles.

I got a nice shout out from the man on the mic along the lines of "nice beard there!" I met a twitter friend I'd never met in person and 3 who I had. We arranged to meet for beers later and I headed off to my van to get cleaned up. I lay down for dose and woke up two hours later ! It was dark and the car park was totally empty !

Anyway as usual all good days find a way of ending well. I met friends, drank beer, ate well (eventually !) and retired to my van. In the morning I wandered down to the shore of Ullswater, took in the views, watched the guys start to set up the tents etc for Sunday's races. I got a breakfast in a cafe as the day's runners arrived, all lycra and nervousness. Such a positive vibe about the place.

Me? I headed up the road, stopped near Hawick and ran up Ruberslaw. Absolutely magical at top of that baby. Don't believe me? Try it and I dare you to be disappointed.

                                                               20 yards to go !


                                                                         Ruberslaw !

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Random Pics August 2012

                                          The Bass Rock from Berwickshire Coastal trail

                                                        Evening skies from my door

                                                                     The stuff of life

                                                                    Scottish Gas 10k

                                                                     Daughter #1

                                                                    Daughter #2

Monday, 20 October 2014

Random pics to July 2012

                                                     After my 1st ultra with a special guy


                                                            After out 1st marathon

                                                         Gina's perfect handstand

                                                                  Tricked up handstand

                                                                   Sonny trail running

                                                                      Kids, beach

                                                               Monkey driftwood?

                                                                           Beach life

                                                           Driftwood and beach running

                                                                         Beach running



                                                          Sonny & Scrim - beachlife

                                                               Ma boy and ma toes



                                                             Dunes. Beach running

                                                                       Special people

                                                                 Sonny on the trail

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Random pics from my life

                                                             Sam, bike, Holy Island

                                               Don't run a marathon in shoes too small !

                                                                    Seal, Holy Island

                                                                    Sam, Holy Island

                                                     Scrim dog giving it laldy, Holy Island

                               Me running the beach in Luna Sandals. Just so much fun. Holy Island

                                                                Scrim. Holy Island

                                                       East Berwickshire. October morn

                                                                  Trail run. Luna Sandals.

                                        Top of Hedgehope. Beautiful day. Alone. Perfect

                                                         Gets a bit boggy in the Cheviots !

                                                                    Gina. Posey.

                                                                  Sam. Bike. Holy Island

                                                 Cocklawburn. October. Atmospheric place

                                                      Love a sunrise. SE Scotland. October