Seeking asylum in the hills & transcendence on the trails

Posts tagged “ultra

Running in Good Company

A pleasant change.

On Sunday I did something I haven’t really done before. I ran with someone! Well, not just ‘someone’, but the one and only John Kynaston. We live only a few minutes apart and arranged to meet up early Sunday morning. We headed up onto the Braes (Gleniffer) chatting our way through 11miles of up’s and down’s. John has such an obvious passion for running and his ultra experience is remarkable. It was a real pleasure to listen to some of his stories and his general thoughts on running. I was just disappointed when it was over.

It was a fitting end to a hard week of training and hope to do it again soon.

If you don’t already follow it, check out John’s blog here – it’s one of the best.

Taper-time now. Have a good week.

Paul


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!


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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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 😉


Thursday training – West Highland ‘No’ Way

I had big plans for Thursday. Needed to use some holiday so thought it would be a good idea to get a tough session in before next weeks race. Would give me plenty time for recovery too.

So throughout Wednesday I formulated a plan. With us now officially in BST and with a week of half-decent weather behind us I thought it would be good to run part of the West Highland Way – the 53-mile Highland Fling route from Milngavie to Tyndrum read on


Race recovery week

Well, following my first race on the 19th March – the D33, plan was to have a lighter training week than normal. Whilst I generally run at least those distances at the weekend I did feel pretty tired all week – felt like I was wearing someone else’s legs for a while. It did stress me out a little but I guess it’s another lesson learned – racing is harder than training (doh!).

So, this week, I cut the mileage a little read on


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 😉


Cheap running shoes?

I’ve been putting in the miles of late in preparation for a few races – averaging between 100 – 150K per week. Body is holding up well – trouble is, I’m going through running shoes fairly quickly, particularly the lightweight shoes that I love to run in. These racing flats are used on the early morning training runs as well as the long weekend slogs.

So, I finally thought it would be wise to also introduce a more ‘traditional’ running shoe into my week. If I could find a reasonably lightweight neutral shoe it might also be better for some of the more straightforward trails (with the more aggressive /grippy sole).

Now, the manufacturers are constantly revising and ‘improving’ their offerings. New soles, new materials, new colourways. BUT, the models that came out 2 or 3 years ago were ‘cutting edge’ so surely they can’t all-of-a-sudden be useless? Can they? Read on


Spring Saturday 70 (26/02/11)

Following a good day of training on Friday I decided before bed to complete a long run in the morning. Plan in my head was a 70K road run. Figured if I got up at around my normal time – fuelled up on porridge and honey, I could be out the door before 7.00am and be back around lunchtime to enjoy the rest of the day. The 4.44am alarm went off as normal and after a couple of ‘snoozes’ I was burning my mouth on some hot porridge in a dark unheated house. Other than the breakfast related huffing and puffing it was silent and still – I guess everyone was were where they should be on a Saturday morning – in bed.

Next up, hydration – bladder was filled but annoyingly I was running low on energy powder so dropped a ‘Zero’ electrolyte tab in to top it up. The financial excesses of Christmas had meant I’d only ordered more on Friday (payday) – it’s all so expensive and there were no guarantees that the postman would turn up. So, energy for the run was:

– 3 x Mule Bar Cherry energy gels

– 2 x Mule Bar energy bars

– 1 x Eat Natural bar

All packed into my OMM last drop with waterproof jacket, spare hat and gloves, phone and bank card in a (now busted) Haglofs Watatait (grrr – will be speaking to them!). I’d forgotten to get money out the bank but the card was there for emergencies. So, with the orange glow of the streetlights guiding me to the front door I stepped out in my Nike Lunaracers and pressed start on my watch. I’ve been getting a little bit of stick for running these kind of distances in such lightweight flats. Not entirely sure why? They just work for me – granted at times like any other runner my knees get a little sore but I suspect it’s the cycling that does just as much in terms of irritation. My running style is something that I’ve been working on for the last 6 months and its made a huge difference to my overall efficiency – this is maybe why I can get away with racing shoes.

Nike Lunaracer

Within an hour the sun was up and the world was awaking. It’s quite nice being completely in a world of my own and seeing tiny snippets of people’s lives as they get up to enjoy their weekend, work or regret what they did last night. I had a couple of loops in mind to make up the distance. One that’s about 40K another that’s 50K. So I figured if I added at least 15K up front I’d have enough room to up-it at the end should i need to.

First 1:20hr went smoothly – deliberately trying to keep things slow. First gel of the day was squeezed as the paper / milk boys were dropping the last of their orders just before 8.30am. The Cherry bombs are pretty good – not as gloopy as some of the others. Kinda like an over-cooked fruit compote.

Then came across a cycle path (Cycle network 7) and figured I should at least add a few k’s down that – got to be better than the additional effort of avoiding traffic / hungover pedestrians. Surroundings were pretty pleasant and to my huge surprise the big yellow star came out and the sky turned blue – like proper light blue!! Just continued running tbh – I went through about 3k where the inside of my ankle was painful – almost like i was going to get cramp (which I don’t often suffer) but through gritted teeth it wore off. At about 35K I was conscious that I was probably running short on fluid – I spotted a handy ‘Shop this way’ sign for the cyclists and found a Tesco petrol station – perfect! Chocolate bar consumed whilst re-filling my bladder and I was off again. Figured I’d keep going to 42K and turn around and that would take me home in the target 70K. 42K is almost a milestone for obvious reasons – it does feel a bit of a random one though.

I guess psychologically the return should be easier – you can fall into the trap of thinking about the parts that you know will be a struggle but by keeping the milestones small and regular it’s possible to put it to the back of your mind (for the most part). I have a general rule of not thinking about hot baths or warm food unless I’m within 10K of being home!

As it was getting later there were lots more people around – other runners and cyclists. Never quite understand why so many won’t return a nod or hello. It’s not a big ask. We’re all out enjoying the day, doing what we love and you’d think there would be an obvious connection. Maybe just ‘unrbanites’ these days?

At 60K I joined another path and spotted a runner about 50m in front. He was fairly shifting but feeling good I thought I’d have a go. Not entirely sure why or the point of it but in a second I was committed. Chased him, but he was going faster than I first thought. Took me 1K to get level and pass him – then the sudden realisation that I’d have to keep going at a ridiculous pace “why oh why did I do it?” Huge mistake. By 65K he was gone but so were my legs as were any remaining fluids. 5K in under 18mins at that stage was pretty stupid and now I was looking at every puddle with intent……”hmm, that one doesn’t look too dirty.”

So, struggled up the road and finally turned into my street at 72K (and missing 4,500 calories). The next 30mins are usually pretty painful and that’s exactly what they were. But I was soon in a bath with a bowl of pasta, a protein shake and a couple of pints of water with fruit juice. Recovery went well and by later in the night I didn’t feel like I’d been out. Some long compression socks overnight and I woke up fresh as a daisy!

A good day on my feet.