Seeking asylum in the hills & transcendence on the trails

Saturday snow – marathon

Saturday was meant to be my last long’ish run before Race day 1 next Saturday – a short ultra. So, plan was at least a few hours at a relatively decent pace. It’s been a heavy week of running and that would put a tidy lid on a successful week. Woke up to this however…

Yep, that's Scotland

So, what was the plan now? gym? treadmill? a swim? a turbo-session? why now? I just wanted to get a half decent run in this weekend more than any other. So, that was that. It was going to happen no matter the weather. Problem no. 1 – footwear choice. Was going to be slippery so I dug out my inov8 x-talons. Hadn’t really used these for anything other than what they’re meant for but I figured with 2 or 3 inches of snow on the ground and no sign of any let up they’d be fine on a combination of road and railway path.

With running gear on, waterproof jacket, gloves and inov8 hat, I set off with a hydration bladder filled with ‘accelerade’ (review coming soon).

In the first 15 minutes it did cross my mind that it was crazy being out in these conditions. And then I remembered the upcoming race, was I going to pull out of that if the conditions weren’t what I fancied? No. No way. So that was that. Full steam ahead as the snowflakes got bigger.

The x-talons are an excellent shoe for me. I normally run in flats and these feel  a lot like them but with a stiffer, less cushioned sole. It appears some people write-off inov8’s “yeah, great shoes, just too narrow.” Granted, they’re a slim fit, but they give you so much more control as a result. And if they’re being used in their natural environment (in the hills) with steep inclines, declines, mud and rocks, control is not a ‘nice-to-have’ in a shoe. That said, if you’re feet just don’t fit in them they’re not for you.

First 22K went well, was cold but the fresh snow made for a reasonably cushioned footstrike. The return was marked with a turnaround in the weather. The snow turned to heavy rain for the next 10K. This was bad news, the snow on the ground just got heavier and wetter. Every time I landed a foot my other foot was splashed with wet slush. All of a sudden my toes were numb as were my hands due to a poor glove choice 😦 I couldn’t stop it running through my head that I was in for a fair amount of pain before I got home.

I wasn’t wrong. My feet were soaked and it was so cold that the front of my socks were icing up. They were actually going hard. Nothing else for it but do my best to think of other things (not a hot bath though – too early for that). Fingers were numb too and I couldn’t get an energy gel out of my pack. It was just heads-down and keep going.

And with the few remaining hills conquered, I was finally home – just one last test, trying to get the key in the door with fingers that weren’t working!

Roll on the summer. Please. 🙂

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