Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Interloping on Dod's blog page - The Great Glen Way Trial Race by Karen D

It feels rather good to be typing a race report again! Hello word document, it’s been a while. Let’s not go into the negatives of the past 16 months when I couldn’t do an ultra. This will be a tale of lows. No not those lows! Low mileage on foot, low profile shoes and low carb.

Team BAM who brings you Glen ogle and Glenmore decided to organise a test race on the Great Glen Way. It was basically an invite only type of job, a trial for a race next year. The full Great Glen Way is 77 miles. The boys were starting the race at Neptune’s staircase and finishing at Bught park making it around 72.5 miles. These boys like their races that start with the letter G. Hoping the next one will be Great Wall of China and not the Gorbals Ultra. I sat at the laptop at 9am to enter as soon as they opened the paypal. With the faffage and red tape the boys had to get the go ahead with the race, a fair few folk had entered other stuff so the numbers were low. The boys e-mailed and asked us all if we wanted to still go ahead. I said I’d still go ahead and run the route with George supporting me and report back, some of the other entrants were happy to do the same so it came about there were 5 of us still up for it. George and I cycled the route last October and we were both surprised at how stunning it was and the elevation. We’d cycled North to South, the race would be South to North. Now cycling down the route, it felt mainly downhill with a fair few hairy scary descents and switchbacks which meant in the 2nd half going down the route we had some really good fast cycling along the Caledonian Canal to the finish. So running it South to North meant getting the flat stuff out the way at the beginning which was a huge plus but the climbs would be in the 2nd half. The joy of starting at 1am meant you forgot about the flat stuff and got a good warm up.

There were thoughts the 5 of us would try and stick near each other just so the team didn’t have to have a whole heap of marshals out for just 5 of us and I was a bit wary about that, I know how to do my pace and didn’t want to frustrate a speedy runner with my pace or try and keep up and blow up. I just wanted to feel like an ultra runner again, see if the fatburd still had it and that my confidence hadn’t truly gone. My longest run in the past year had been 22 miles and a lovely confidence boosting run on the whw with Johnny fling, Lorna & George but I’d had plenty time in the saddle on the MTB and we’ve had lots of lovely adventures so I was hoping my head, heart and muscle memory would carry me through.

I was more worried about footwear and what to eat than the distance. I only train in low profile shoes now, my Paul Giblin’s. So called as I read a report Paul did of them a while ago on his bloggage about NB 110’s. I have pudgy feet and these babies fit my tootsies perfectly. So I decided I’d run in those but wear injinjas and proper socks on top just for extra padding. I sudacremed my feet first but the injinjas had to get whipped off about checkpoint 2 as they were cutting off the circulation to my toes! The woes of having fat toes! I only felt a mild tenderness on the bottom of my feet at the finish, not one blister.

Now onto food issues. I eat low carb so it was a decision to either go down the train low carb, race high route or stick with low carb. I decided to race low carb, didn’t want a dodgy tummy mid run! This could have been a huge gamble but it paid off big time. Don’t think I’ve ever felt so good in run, no usual slumps mid race at all.

We all met up in a dogging car park at Neptune’s staircase. Bill & Mike, Terry & George would do bike sweep and search and rescue, Susan & Alice marshalling along with Helen & Mark, Louise got some marshalling & bike duties too and us runners, Norrie, Charlotte, Alan, Gary and I.

I’ll get on with the race now I think, maybe waffled too much stuff already.

Start at 1am with a piper, fireworks, dancing girls, white doves being released and flying high above us. Ok it was pretty low key and off we all trot for the first 6.5 miles along the canal. I forgot George’s suunto so Helen catches up with us a few miles in and I strap it on till it conks out at 59 miles. We’re all pretty quiet, dodging frogs and giant black slugs. We chat a wee bit and then Gary & Charlotte pull away. I can sense Norrie is desperate to pull away but he behaves (for a wee while) . I check the suunto at Gairlochy and realise I maybe shouldn’t have done that in 57 mins. Long sleeve top was whipped off half way along here. Quick meet up with Louise, Helen & Mark here and we cross over to the other side following the headtorch further along. Mistake! Charlotte and Gary had headed along a dead end track and Louise & Helen were shouting us all back to head up the road. I get my footprint map out now and decide to thumb it the rest of the way. The next section was a 4 mile undulating one and Alan and I settled into a nice groove running together chatting away and admiring the houses along the road. We get a bit freaked out at the noisy rustling noise following us on the right for a fair bit! Time flew by and then we were at checkpoint 1, Clunes. Mike, Helen & Mark were very attentive . Chomp of my quiche, cheesy scone and a small can of coke and then off.

Alan and I seem to bump into Gary and Norrie again just before we hit the spooky fairy forest & as the guys are going fast I do too as I don’t fancy being there myself in the pitch black. We see the bunting just at the side sprint past it as quick as possible while the guys start talking about Blairwitch stuff and when we emerge from the forest the views of Loch Lochy in the dark are pretty awesome! Alan says exactly what I’m thinking “aren’t we lucky”. Norrie & Gary shoot off and Alan and I carry on the undulating forest track, miles ticking by as we chatted away or ran in silence comfy in each others company. Headtorches were off about 3.30am.

A few miles before Laggan lochs checkpoint Louise & George come cycling towards us and Norrie seems to have gone missing and is dawndering about on the other side of the Loch which is the way I was planning on going according to my map. We get to Bill at the checkpoint, I’m getting hot so change into a vest top, Alan and I get fed and watered then head off with Louise on the bike with us going uphill on the trail for a miles or so then we say our goodbyes to her and carry on enjoying the morning. The route carried on with lots of off road undulating trail, and headed into Invergarry with the BAM signs stuck to random posts. Invergarry had their Highland games on that day but unfortunately we couldn’t hang about to join in with the Hill race. We carried on the up n down trail, shooting through a field of pretty sleepy bedraggled sheep and onto Oich bridge. George and Terry are coming along beside the canal on the bikes, George says to me “well how did you enjoy that section you’ve never been on before”. Whit! Seems there are 2 footrprint maps of the Great Glen way, the original one and one designed specifically for the Maggies charity which takes in some alternative routes, ie on the other side of the canal!

On track now and I now remember this 5 mile flat section to Fort Augustus. The morning was getting hotter and Alan needed a toilet stop so George waits with Alan. I tell Terry I want to get this section over and done as quick as I can so it’s a bit of fartlek with Terry saying stuff like “you ok with me cycling beside you”, “it would drive me nuts someone cycling beside me”, “you sure you don’t want me to go away as it would drive me nuts with someone cycling beside me”, “I would want to shove someone on a bike cycling beside me”. I was ready to shove Terry off his bike . We pass bouncy lady with her bouncier dog, I keep looking back to see if I can spot Alan & George but I’m pulling away. I get to the most wonderful checkpoint with Alice and Susan who supply wipes and a skoosh of deodorant, total bliss. I open my wee pot of fruit n juice and devour it. George comes along with Alan just as I’m ready to leave, he grabs my footprint map and throws it over his shoulder and Terry packs the Maggies map into my little case and off I trot.

I’m on my own now and remember where I am again, totally thrown by the map now as the mileage is 4 miles of a difference to my other one and I now get confuddled with the suunto as I’ve forgotten if it shows actual time or race time. I soon forget about miles and time and just decide to enjoy whatever comes. After a mile or so I get off road again and it’s climbing time in a dense forest, I keep climbing and climbing and decide to stick some tunes on. I’d loaded up my own shuffle a few weeks before instead of asking Beth to fill it with her stuff. Asap rocky is ok for a while but his constant “uh uh” in his tracks drives me nuts. I start of with old style Moby, on really really low and start a wee sing a long session with myself. I’m getting pretty excited about the climb up above Loch Ness now and I keep catching glimpses of it with the odd switchback thrown in. I’m feeling really good, the day is getting hotter which I’m loving and I’m happy as a pig in shit, the only niggle is the front of my ankles so I pop a couple of paracetamol. I’m pushing myself on the uphills and making sure as soon as I get to the top it’s launch myself into a trot again and not over extend the downhills. Nearing Invermoriston I get a bit emotional, chuffed to bits I’ve got to 40 miles pretty easily and Bill’s waiting in the car park. Luckily George has left the Epic shit van here and it’s open so I get to whip my shorts on and a clean vest top, oh and the thirst is still there so I spy a D33 beer but only manage half whilst a bus load of folk are watching me. Bill thinks I’m nuts at the excitement I get when I spy a bag of Mrs Tilly’s I’d stuffed in my bag and forgotten about. I trot off across the carpark with Bill telling me it’s tarmac uphill for a bit.

When I leave the checkpoint and head up the tarmac switchbacks I get a text through from someone who was on the bus! Thanks Tim, that made me smile .

The next 10 miles were probably the toughest but my best. We now hit switchback city and within this 10 miles it looks like it’s 7 miles uphill. I’m checking the map and keep questioning why it says Dave on the track. I keep looking at it and focusing on it, why would a map have the name Dave on it. 2 and a half miles out of Invermoriston then I come across a cave. Ahha! Silly contour line on the map! There are bits that remind me of Kinlochleven and the route is still dusty and dry. I now switch my tunes on louder and I get a bit of Massive attack, Kings of Leon. Queens of the Stoneage. I get a bit of time with George on his bike a bit later on and then he heads to see if Alan is ok. A bit later on I’m crossing a stone bridge and up pops a cyclist beside me. Terry keeps me company as we head up the trail, me on foot and Terry on the bike. We chat for a while and then Terry wimps out and heads back down the trail. He points up to the top and tells me the high point is round the corner. I remember it’s not. At one point I see 2 cyclists coming towards me with their celtic tops on, my first tourists of the day! Climbing, climbing, climbing still and before I know it I get to the high viewpoint. I get a bit mushy at the sight of a wee red squirrel crossing my path and stop and go Aw then tell myself I’m being pathetic and move on. The joy of Underworld’s Born Slippy coming on the shuffle is one I won’t forget. I turn it up full blast, I pump my hands up in the air belting out the wrong words and turn to see a horrified tourist sitting on the bench to my right. “MORNING”, then I run away. It’s not many races I put my music on but I’m pretty isolated and don’t want to feel too alone. I get some lovely downhill running now and the pain in my ankles has subsided and then I start to encounter the odd walker or 2. The day is getting hotter and I’m still popping my electrolyte tablets, I’m now running through bugs and flies on the trail and on a nice rocky downhill when I look up and see Mark run towards me. He asks if I fancy a cup of tea at the checkpoint and I ask if they have coffee, yes . Mark runs on and tells me I have a mile to the car. I carry on and get a bit confuddled here as I see another track and then I seem to be climbing again, I glance to my left and see Mark trotting up the hill so I head after him, I get to Mark & Helen and get a nice catch up, a bite to eat and a lovely cup of coffee and a cold starbucks latte in a bottle. I am still aware I’m craving a really cold drink but I forget to tell anyone at a checkpoint. I’m feeling my food is too dry now and i’m not eating much which was the plan anyway. I think I hit fat burning zone a fair few miles back. Mark & Helen were brilliant, really enthusiastic and brilliant support.

The section out of there felt like uphill rough tarmac with a feint path at the side, I felt like I just kept jumping from road to off road to road to off road. On a nice downhill section I’m dancing from side to side and i see my boy run towards me. Lovely surprise and we chat about how good I feel except for a niggle on my right side so I keep running but keep the pace easy. We get on an the off road downhill bit that feels so different to what we’ve been on, the dead trees all laying down, grey from being in the sun, very Lord of the Rings ish. We head into the Drumnadrochit checkpoint and I ask if someone has a 20p piece so I sit on a proper toilet as trying to do a quick squat pee with the blue bottles about isn’t much fun. 20p for a wee in case anyone was wondering on the Great Glen way. Loo Watch brought to you by Karen. I eat a wee bit and drink some more and try to run along the flat road, the pain in my side gets worse.

I get into the main town area and nip into the toilet. A bunch of gits are sitting outside café’s enjoying cooling drinks while the heat of the day seems to turn up a bit more. I know this section is a couple of miles tarmac and the path is easy to spot on the map but my head tells me I’m going faster than I actually am and I keep checking and rechecking my map thinking I missed the turn off. I spot a car pull over and it’s Mark & Helen. Mark points out the path just up ahead and then I start climbing again through some overgrown thorny bushes. They rip some holes in my arm and my first thought is when I get up to the woods then the bears are going to smell the fresh blood. I’m really hot when I reach the edge of the forest so stop in the shade and have my mini can of cola and then chastise myself for stopping to drink. Shift your butt Karen! I remember all this section when George and I cycled down it, I know I have a tough climb coming up and the usual switchbacks which mess with your head. Just before the cairn and the highest point my thighs hurt and I stop on the uphill about 3 times, a bloke in a red t-shirt is smiling at me as I approach him and says hi. I forgot Norrie’s brother was on the route . On the descent George, Mark and Helen come running up the hill towards me. I point over to a tree stump and ask if that’s Mike. I think I must have been a bit out of it so sorry Mike. My side pain is still bad and I feel a wee bit sick so excuse myself for a moment and do a mini vomit. The only thing that pops out is black coffee so I realise my tummy is now totally empty. We get to the van and I remember I bought a reduced yellow label 25p cheese and tomato sandwich the night before so devour that. Heaven. I have another pot of fruit too and this makes stuff better. Mark & Helen head back up the route to check on Alan and I head off again.

I’m now up to about 62 miles and the next 5 mile section to Blackford. I forget if it’s in this section or the last one where you come of the road and join a very overgrown path just to the left, it feels like a little oasis of mirages when you’re hot and you come across a post saying Bovril, then another saying Toasties, then another saying Ice cream and then a rocky path adorned with signs pointing towards a café in the middle of the overgrown foliage. I’ve read Hansel & Gretel, I’m not venturing anywhere near that bit. I get on the road and start ticking off the farms on either side on the map. I’m powerwalking the inclines and bimbling on the flats enjoying the views, singing to farmers as Underworld’s Crazy tune comes on. Helen passes me in the car and not long after I spy Louise coming towards me on the bike. That was such a nice section towards the checkpoint. We pull of the road onto a lovely woodland path chatting and catching up on life. Louise tells me George is thinking of running the last section with me and I deliberate if I want to have him holding me back on the run . Terry, George, Mark & Helen are all here and I spy a carton of banana milk in Louise’s van and a bottle of diet coke. This thirst thing just isn’t going away. I tell the guys I’m off and want the job done so George does his flappy lady getting ready stuff but I start running. He catches me up and I’m fired up to get going. Nothing beats the feeling of a last section in a long run!

The next 5 miles is very very pretty we’re catching up on our day, I start singing songs again and changing the words to rude ones. I admire George’s bottom, we come across a lady walking the fattest Dalmatian you have ever seen that turns and starts to run towards me as all dogs not on a lead tend to do and George tells the woman I’ve been running since 1am so can she please stop the dog. Thankfully she does and I don’t have to climb the tree. George tells me I’m amazing. I say yes I know. I feel pretty amazing. We climb a bit more and then it’s a downhill to the old hospital and he sprints off. We spy Bught park in the distance and that feels so good. We meander towards the park, running through a grassy area within a housing scheme, round the golf course and then on towards the car park. George is getting a bit emotional so he sprints off and I force myself to keep it together to the finish and all those lovely people involved in our weekend. I punch the air and shout YES and then I have a bubble in my boys arms.

72/73 miles run on heart and head and a lot of muscle memory. I didn’t sit down once and I felt amazing 95% of the time. I am so chuffed to have been able to take part and even more chuffder that I finished. A huge thanks to Mike, Bill, George, Alice, Susan, Terry, Louise, Mark, Helen and my fellow runners, Alan, Norrie, Gary & Charlotte. I just want a replay the whole weekend please, next weekend or the next weekend. This will be a great addition to our bunch of wonderful Scottish Ultras. Oh and next time I have a soapy dopey shower in the love bus though Terry, can you switch the water pump on though so I can get a rinsy wincey afterwards please. Ta.

Monday, 28 February 2011

16 Months

So quite a lot of stuff has happened in the 16 months since I last blogged.
You will be glad to know I am not going to list everything here.
But since this year’s WHW is only 4 months away I thought I best get my excuses in early.

December saw me run 300 miles and the first 3 weeks of January 270 miles, I had run every day since around mid November, Most of Decembers running was in snow wearing crampons and a lot of Januarys was on the road, both things I am not that used to, But the thing that I did that goes against almost everything I normally do was wear boots every day for work through all the bad weather.

Now I had a niggle on the back of my heal for a while but I had no idea what it was, so then I run 30 miles on the cateran trail and by the end I am hurting bad, the next morning I can’t walk,
A visit to the Physio and one Achilles is chronic and one is acute, oops. (My first Achilles injury since I started running 29 years ago) And although it’s a combination of things that caused it, I am sure the boots are the main culprit, going from barefoot and minimal shoes to boots was just stupid.

Physio says since it’s me no point in telling me to completely rest but Ice dunk after runs and cut my distance and quantity of runs right back, After 4 weeks left Achilles seems ok but the right is still not fixed so I have decided I can’t wait any longer I need a complete break from running to get fixed it time for the important races of the season.
I have been hitting the gym hard to keep me from going nuts and have dragged the Cyclo X bike out of the shed done 4 rides so far and really enjoying it.

I really don’t know what I will do this season now, I had been thinking sub 10 Fling and perhaps a sub 21 WHW but then we had also been thinking Fling then up to Fort bill next day then 2 days on up the great glen to Inverness, For the WHW we had also been thinking about stringing Kintyre, Cowal, WHW, Great glen way together but now everything is up in the air.

One thing is for sure I will be at UTMB and want to do Sub 35 hours and this has to be my main focus.

The D33 is in less than 3 weeks and with 180 entries is looking to be a great race; I am looking forward to seeing loads of folks have a good day out.

It’s a perfect day for running but I have been out on the bike and I will resist.

Friday, 23 October 2009

Home made Huarache sandle

Did my first mile tonight in home made Huaraches they worked well, no slip or slid they did not move at all, at 2mm they did not offer much protection but were perfect on the road I would like to find some 4mm leather to try on a trail if anyone has any idea of a source let me know, I used an old pair of laces to tie them on again I would like to source a leather tie for this.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Dogs Dangly Bits

KSO Treks are the dogs dangly bits.

Ran from Tyndrum to Beinglass in the Treks for the Glee club run.
They have good grip and fit well, they offer much more protection than the standard KSO but you still have to take care to avoid stone bruising on the ball of foot.
From Tyndrum up through the woods and along the open section to Carmyle cottage was fine but after that the last couple of miles on the trail into Beinglass I was finding it hard work.

On inspection of my feet at Beinglass I had 1 hot spot on inside edge of BOF of my left foot, Stuck a compeed on to protest it and then changed into the Inov@8 F-Lites for the return journey. These are a really great shoe weight is only 230 grams and again do not offer much protection but they felt like moon boots after the Treks.

It took me a couple of miles to get into running with the F-Lites and I was slower on the return leg, I think the concentration of running in the Treks and the use of the Hamstrings rather than the Quads had taken more out of me than I had realised.

On Sunday we did part of the Heart of Scotland 100 route from just outside Dunkeld to Aberfeldy as it turned out this section was a marked cycle route so navigation was not an issue we did 14.5 miles and I ran in the F-lites but the terrain was such that had my feet not been tired the Treks would have been just fine.

My toes are beginning to spread I have gaps where I never had before this can only be a good thing. I am not sure how long the process will take but so far so good.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Mine is small and deformed.

I walked round the changing rooms of the leisure centre the other night looking at everyone else’s they were all longer and fatter than mine, I am deformed.

Why was I born with pinkie toes a good 15mm shorter than my second toes? It does cause me issues when wearing the VFFs

Folks are asking why minimal shoes.

Normal shoes tilt your body forward which puts all the muscles and ligaments in your feet under stress and there are 650 muscles and 250 ligaments so that’s a lot of stress.

I feel the raised heel limits the movement of my ankles and promotes heel strike.
By running in a minimal shoe with no rise from front to back I don’t heel strike and it allows full stretch of my Achilles and calf muscles, which seem to be adapting just fine.

When your barefoot or minimalist you just don’t heal strike simples.

This means that I run with a shorter stride at a higher cadence and land with my weight over my centre of gravity with bent knee, the bent knee is like a big spring and takes up all the shock from the body much better than an inch of gel could.

My Treks arrived yesterday and I wore them for 12 hours straight and they are fantastic, I did a 5 mile run in them off road and they have much more grip on wet grass and mud.
They did dull the feeling under foot a little but that’s what I wanted as I have been feeling everything way to much during this transition.
So do I wear them this weekend on the WHW training run , decisions, decisions

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Ultra Sensitive Dod

Running ten miles in the VFF KSOs last night hurt.

So what's going on I ran a ten-mile loop 1-mile road 1 mile rough track with gravel then 6 miles trail then back down the gravel and road. Last time I did this route was before UTMB and was in the VFF classics and everything felt good. Last night I felt every little rock and stone.

I found the following statement on a Barefoot running site


Our feet need to feel the ground so we can walk and run naturally. When we block this sensation by wearing shoes, our feet try even more to feel the ground. We develop an ultra sensitivity in our soles. After years of being blocked, we remove the shoes, and our feet are over stimulated. And we think, how did we possibly run around and play barefoot when we were kids?

So Perhaps my feet are going through a sensitive period before they toughen up a bit.

I have been living barefoot as much as possible and wearing minimal footwear so I think they are going through a period of adjustment.

Here is the list of what I am trying to achieve while running.

· Weight on ball of foot, or flat footed (on rougher surfaces or at slowspeeds)
· Let heel down gently· Bent ankles
· Lean forward from ankles (not waist)
· Bent knees· Hips under body
· Torso vertical
· Lift foot
· Swing left arm with right leg
· Allow torso to twist
· Swing right arm with left leg
· Elbows approximately right angles

And you though running was just a case of putting one foot in front of another.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Do the pelvic thrust

18.2 miles today the longest run so far in the F-lites if felt good with an average pace of 9:13 on an undulating off road trail so 2 hours 47min. I ran without the support blanket of a full back pack and just had 2 slices of Soreen cake with me, I ate them more because I wanted than needed them, I was a bit thristy by the time I got back but your hardly going to die from dehydration in Scotland in September.

To try and run with better form especially during intervals I am trying to engage my core and tilt my pelvis forward to make sure that my centre of gravity is over my ball of foot, to do this I have to place my hand on my back and tilt pelvis forward its not easy at 6:15 min mile pace but when it works I find my self at 5:15 min mile pace its not for long and it looks a bit Gay but its working.

When not running I spend most of my time walking around in old running shoes.
I realised this week that it was kind of stupid to be running barefoot or minimal shoes and to be barefoot around the house but to be wearing supportive shoes at all other times, which lets face it is longer than the times I spend running.

So I splashed out this week and bought 2 pairs of new shoes now if you google minimal shoes you get canvass shoes at £40 a pair but if you google canvas shoes you can find them for £6 a pair sorted.

I am wearing them without socks at least until it gets really cold this will help enhance the proprioceptive feedback loop.

Because I have spent most of my life wearing shoes my Achilles tendons and calfs have shortened and so feel tight when barefoot, wearing minimal shoes should speed up the adaption process. But just like you need a rest day in an exercise program I think I still need to spend time in support shoes on some days during the transition process.

Seems like I am not only learning to run barefoot but now I also have to learn how to walk barefoot or minimal.

I have not as yet been brave enough to throw out all the old running shoes and I have not figured out what to wear on my feet in the depths of winter when at work.