Seeking asylum in the hills & transcendence on the trails

Race

GO33 Ultra Race Report (2011)

The GO33 ultra…..

Weather – perfect

Turnout – excellent

Scenery – stunning

Pretty much all the ingredients were there for a great race through the Glen and back. Due to the higher than expected numbers the route was changed at the start which meant a couple of extra up’s and down’s on some forest track. Better than the planned road start any day!

(more…)


Brecon Beacons Ultra – 19th November 2011

Entry available!

I have a place at the Beacons Ultra on the 19th November if anyone fancies it? Entry closed weeks ago as it’s a pretty popular race. I’m not going to be able to make it now.  Looks like a cracking race. Entry was £40 – yours for £35. Just give me a shout if you fancy it. Go on!!

Nice way to finish the season.


Inside my box – SUMS 2011

Well, look what arrived the other day!

It’s not really that exciting is it? Well, it doesn’t really matter what it is or what’s inside the box. Not that I don’t care. I do. A lot. It’s the trophy for finishing 3rd in this year’s  Scottish Ultra Marathon Series.

Whilst I was well-beaten to 1st and 2nd, I guess it is an achievement considering the strength, experience and talent of the other competitors. I dare say I probably had a bit of luck along the way, although I have worked hard for it, completing 6 races and running as hard as I could in each one. More than acceptable in Season 1.

It’s just that the way I was presented it, was much more important to me than the accolade itself. There was no presentation, no clapping and no champagne.

It was given to me by the most important man that’s ever been in my life. My Dad. And, he shook my hand and said “Well done Son.” Does it really get any better than that? For me, no, I don’t think it does. I’ve had such incredible support from my Dad (and the rest of my family) all my life and trying not to let them down is something that courses through me, and always will. I guess the ‘white box’ was an opportunity for him to let me know that I’m doing ok – making every stride of each race (occasionally in the wrong direction), every 4.30am training run, every sickly energy gel, bout of cramp and lost toenail more than worthwhile. I’d do it all over again (except quicker!) for another one of those.

So, thank you SUMS – it was an awesome 2011.

2012????

Let’s just wait and see 🙂


Running in Lake District – Coledale Horseshoe

After the River Ayr Way race, it was home for a bath and some food, then pack some stuff for a few days in the Lake District with family.

We were so lucky with the weather and managed a few decent walks as well as some time relaxing and reading.

I also managed to get few runs in. The Coledale Horseshoe looked good on paper and didn’t disappoint. The route starts in Braithwaite. You can park beside the school easy enough (particularly if it’s before sun-up!).

Follow the road towards Cockermouth, passing a couple of paths both sides of the road to a small car park on the left (I guess you might be able to park there – it’s small though and probably fills up quick). The Grisedale path is marked and immediately starts with some fairly steep steps. Me being me, I blindly took the other path for a mile until I realised I’d gone the wrong way.  Turns out it was worth it anyway as the sun delivered a morning treat.

Grisedale Pike is pretty runnable although steep in parts and rocky underfoot, making a mis-judged step a potential sore-one. Near the top it’s hands on thighs stuff for a while.

From there I headed on over an ‘unamed peak’ (according to the guidebook) to Hopegill Head – again all runnable.

Then a quick left over Sand Hill and onto the saddle of Coledale Hause. From there it’s a really pleasant trail until you reach a junction. I chose to go right first and head up onto Grassmoor for some amazing views over Loweswater, Crummock Water and Buttermere. (more…)


RAW River Ayr Way Ultra – race report 2011

I’ll keep it short.
Weather turned out pretty decent following the heavy rain on the Friday. Arrived at Glenbuck in plenty of time, registered and chatted to some friendly faces. Got ready to race – warmed up, then just hung about until they finally managed to gather everyone and start the race around 20mins late.

(more…)


Last of the SUMS – River Ayr Way Ultra

Well, I can’t believe it’s the September weekend already! It’s crazy just how quick this year has passed. We haven’t exactly had a summer to remember in Scotland but I guess we’re used to it.

Tomorrow is the final race in the Scottish Ultra Marathon series (SUMS) – The River Ayr Way Challenge (RAW). 41ish miles (more…)


The Speyside Way Ultra – Race Report 2011

Tummy trouble

I was supposed to race the Devil ‘o the Highlands a few weeks before this but stomach problems meant that I couldn’t start. Was pretty gutted. Felt like I’d run out of luck as I’d had gastroenteritis just before GEDM earlier in the year.

So, next thing to focus on was the Speyside Ultra (part of the SUMS series). My folks had booked a cottage up in Buckie so we were all looking forward to a mini-break. My training since missing the Devil had gone pretty well and into race week I tapered and increased the carb intake from the middle of the week. On Thursday it appeared to strike again and I had the worst stomach (I won’t go into details) and the realisation that as well as an underlying issue I must be doing this to myself. I think I know what it is now so if anything, that’s a step forward (and another post). I couldn’t drive up on the Thursday as planned as I needed to be near a toilet so I set out on the 4.5hr drive on Friday with a decent supply of immodium.

The rest of the day was spent trying to get sorted – boiled rice, bananas, trip to the chemist. It wasn’t great and the stress of trying to get myself fit for the race probably wasn’t helping. (more…)


Post race blues?

Thought it about time I actually posted something. Been keeping my head down after the WHW race. It’s been a strange month and I’ve had a few injury concerns, but building back up to peak training weeks.

First things first – a question!

Post race blues – is this a recognised condition?

It doesn’t seem to be talked about much. Maybe it isn’t real? Or maybe it doesn’t affect the full-time athletes as much as there is no ‘normal’ to return to after the event. Most of us anyway have to return to our normal day-to-day working lives only days after a lengthy physical event like the West Highland Way race. I was back in work a couple of days after and whilst I expected it to be ok (at least for the first few hours) I wasn’t really prepared for the slump that followed.

I know it was only a race but I did learn a lot about myself and where I want to head. (more…)


West Highland Way Race Report – 2011

The West Highland Way Race 2011

Where to start? It’s such a long race, and so much happens over 95 miles (or more). This was my first long ultra in my first season racing. It wasn’t  in the plan for this year but I couldn’t resist when the opportunity arose.

Anyway – get on with it.

We arrived at Milngavie just after 11.00pm and the car-park was almost full. It had rained in Glasgow all day. Heavily. But as we walked up to register in the church hall it stopped and almost felt warm. There was an atmosphere around the place of nervousness, excitement and anticipation – what would lie ahead for all runners and support teams?

I registered without any hassle – “enjoy it” was the parting remark. Hmmmm. Off to be weighed and within minutes we were back in the car with almost 2 hours to kill. This was tough. I was desperate to just get going. To finally forget about the tedious planning and prep of food, drinks, times, meeting points, sleep times, clothes, blah, blah, blah. I was desperate to get on with the running bit – to finally feel my legs moving under me and some wind in my face after a week-long taper. I hadn’t run more than 5 miles at a time over the last week and wanted to be reassured that I’d still remember how!

I sat in the front seat of the car – my crew left me alone with my thoughts. They sat on some deck-chairs and drank tea in a carpark close to midnight – the whole thing was bizarre. I felt pretty confident, just ached for the clock to get closer to 12.30 and I could commence the pre-race sock / running shoe ritual.

There was a race briefing 20 mins before the start. There were so many people around I couldn’t really hear what was being said. Next thing I knew I was saying my goodbye’s to my Support and making my way to the front of the startline. It was quite a sight – 150 or so runners all ready to do battle with whatever the WHW would throw at them over the next day. (more…)


West Highland Way Race – it’s here!

Well, can’t believe it. The #WHWrace is actually here! In about 11hours, 160 or so runners will leave Milngavie in the hope of conquering Scotland’s famous trail all the way to Fort William.

It’s looking like it’s going to be a wet race. It hasn’t really stopped all day, so another clothes change might be required! I guess that’s the beauty of a challenge like this – you could know the course like the back of your hand, have trained impeccably, prepared 15 food options but ultimately there’s a huge “Unknown” on the trail for most people……a stomach that gives up holding food, a trip and fall, blistering, a tendon snap….the “Unknown” can strike at any time – and that’s part of the buzz. Getting through it.

Despite being a very late entrant I’ve been keen to get going for the last few days. Yes, I would have changed my training, yes I could be better prepared but I’m feeling good and (so far) am glad to be part of it.

Good luck to all the runners and support teams – it’s such a commitment from everyone and I hope you find what you’re looking for from it.

My sister will be doing twitter updates as usual (@lilacswizzle). Heck, she might even pass on some messages if you keep them clean!  My sister is heading up my support crew with my folks so if you see them have a chat – they like to talk!


The support of an ultra runner

GUEST POST by my sister Nicola!!!

A day in the life of an ultra marathon support person……

On Saturday 21st May my brother raced his third ever ultra marathon, The Cateran Trail 55 and until a few months ago I must admit I had never really heard much about ultras, SUMS,  Jezz Bragg etc etc. I mean it was only last year that the boy actually starting running seriously (and did a few 10k races). (more…)


The Cateran Ultramarathon – race report

This was a race I had never planned to do. It was only a few days after the Highland Fling that my sister asked me what the next race was going to be “there’s the Cateran run but I guess it’s only a few weeks away – too soon probably.”

Without meaning it, a small seed had been planted and as I started to recover from the Fling I looked into the race details…. (more…)


The night before – Cateran Trail ultramarathon race

Just a quick post. All settled in Hotel, about 20mins drive away. Registered already and can’t wait to get started.

My sis will be tweeting updates @lilacswizzle

Thanks for all your support.


Running on Empty

Friday was my last opportunity for a long training run before the Cateran Trail Ultramarathon next Saturday.

I’ve started to mix up my longer runs meaning I generally now include 2 x types of long runs in my training. Both very different and both much debated / discussed by the running community. (more…)


My first Highland Fling (2011 Ultra)

I had run / cycled / walked quite a bit of the West Highland Way in the past and on the Saturday before the Fling I wanted to get one final long run in. As some of you will know I had to miss the GEDM race a few weeks before due to sickness and it had knocked my confidence quite a bit, especially as the training had suffered. So I decided I needed a decent long run and a week before the race seemed a good time to try out some of the course. It would hopefully (read on)


The Highland Fling 2011 – night before

Big race tomorrow. The Montane Highland Fling. Not got a lot to say about it following the GEDM sickness fiasco. Yes, I’m nervous something happens again before the start line.

Anyway, I’ll post up race results / report sometime next week. My sister most likely will be tweeting some race updates. Feel free to follow her here or my own account here.

So, it’s early to bed for me. I’ll leave you with some pics of the area from last week’s training run (excuse the poor quality – rubbish camera, and I don’t like to stop for long).

Night.

**See race report here**

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Running, racing, sickness and sadness

I understand now. I must be a bit of a drama queen. That’s obviously the reason I haven’t written anything for a while. Last post I did was the night before my big race – the one I had put a huge amount of effort into preparing for (The GEDM). Other than a knee injury the week before the preparation had been meticulous and my training relentless. Long runs, nutrition, weights, hydration, clothing, checkpoint times, target pace….the list goes on. I was so ready for it.

Headed off to bed night before the race at 10pm, breakfast plan all sorted, clothes prepared, support bag and instructions all organised – family had been briefed (and were excited about the race). Then at about 2am I was dragged out of my running dreams into a bit of a nightmare by the pain that was building in my stomach. read on


The night before the race – GEDM ultra

Not much to say really. 56 mile race tomorrow. Haven’t run all week due to injury. Will run and finish tomorrow though. Slightly apprehensive about it due to the knee but keen to get going.

I have a good team behind me (my family) so it’s another mini-adventure

My sister @lilacswizzle will be doing some twitter updates, other than that I’ll see you in Edinburgh 😉


Deeside D33 Ultra – blue skies and burning thighs

Thought I’d write-up my first race of the year – the D33 ultra in Aberdeen. Got up there Friday afternoon after a long drive and checked into the hotel. Then headed straight out to find Duthie Park – the race registration and start. read on


First race of the year – D33 Ultra marathon

First race of the season is finally upon me. A relatively short ultra at 33miles. Training has been going well and the thought of getting out there with like-minded people is giving me some pretty active butterflies. I’m not exactly a seasoned-pro when it comes to ultra races, but hopefully this is the first of many this year. Two more to follow soon….confirmed races.

Race strategy will be to do my very best not to get carried away for the first 20K. I have a bad habit of getting too excited with other runners about and passing people when I really shouldn’t.  I  just want to enjoy this run without pushing too hard and potentially burning out. So, expectations aren’t high in terms of time / placing. Just want to take in some new surroundings, maybe chat with a few people and enjoy the first of many races this year.

So, if you’re out and about in Aberdeen at all on Saturday, the race starts at 9.00am, Duthie Park. Tweet me if you want to say hello (@pyllon) and maybe we can do the old fashioned face-to-face thing. Keep your fingers crossed for fair weather.

Woooohooooo!!


Top training week

Just a very quick post full of Friday wishes. Sadly I have to work today (I normally cram a full working week into 4 days), I’ve done that already but my employer feels that there’s obviously more to give. This week has been a cracker in terms of training. I still have a longish run to do tomorrow but I’m already up at 115K for the week, 3 x swimming / 2 x weights sessions and a couple of spins. It takes a lot of organisation (and washing powder) to fit all that into 5 days.

My slippers - beaten up running shoes

Next week will be a little different with my first race on Saturday (details here). A little tapering of the training is necessary I think. I’m extremely excited about the race and cannot wait to get going. Some of my family are coming up to watch, so also a good opportunity to spend some quality time with them pre and post race.

Anyway, I said it would be short – hope you are winding down for the weekend after a fruitful week. Have a good one 😉