Dunblane 7.5mile Road Race

This will officially be known as The Last Race That The Other Half Gets To Choose. Basically because every time he picks one, it includes the words “gently undulating” and “slight climb” in the race briefing which prompt the regulars to chortle knowingly. 

Forget, for a minute, the weird distance. You do get over it. I promise. 

4 weeks post London he felt I needed a bit of a kick start. And boy did I bloody well get one. 

It’s fun to enter smaller, more obscure races. As long as you’re quick like a club runner, like Brian is. If you’re slow like a sloth then it’s not so much fun. But hey. Someone has to come last… (I didn’t this time…) I’m actually not *that* slow these days, but that’s by my standards. Bean is now faster (marginally) than a glacier. 

This was actually a lovely wee race and one I would recommend to those in the locality. You’re piped down the hill (by a piper, not like on to a cake) beside the Hydro to the start line (note; it is the MOUNTAIN that you run back up at the end, by the way…) and then you’re set off on the main road. It’s a loop out of Dunblane to Kinbuck and then back round OVER THE ACTUAL BLOODY ALPS and then down into Dunblane only to be faced with over 200m of elevation in the last half mile. Which is fun. 

It was hot. So damn hot. And from about 3 miles in my left calf had decided that this was definitely TOO FUCKING SOON, BEAN. 

There was a mythical water station at “4 miles” which eventually appeared as a watery mirage after one of the mountain roads rounded a corner. I’ve never finished a bottle of water at a race yet. Until Sunday. 

Brian, or Speedy McSpeedFace, had zipped off at the start. Both of our Garmins had failed to get a signal. Mine woke up after 600 worrying metres where I decided I really need to learn how to pace without a gadget… But his didn’t wake up until about 1.5 miles in by which time he thought by keeping up with those around him he’d be doing alright on pace. Turns out that 4.45/km otherwise known as “imminent death”. 

Meanwhile, I’m bringing up the rear, where I’d found some lasses from my local running club which i have never attended (swimming night coincides, you see…) and it was lovely to chat for a bit before the hills stole all my words and my soul. 

A very picturesque race on a sweltering Sunday meant that I soon began to reel people in. One thing I pride myself in is the fact that I no longer walk/run. It works for some people but not me. I’m better if I just keep on jogging. I was getting particularly hacked off with the girl that repeatedly SPRINTED PAST at under 6min/km and then walked until I’d JUST passed her before taking off again. 

Eventually I decided to match her run pace behind her and then lost her. More efficient, my Arse. 

The real bastard about this race is the end. Not often I’ll say THAT. But the whole time you’re running down hill back into Dunblane, you are ALARMINGLY AWARE of the fact that the hill back up to the Hydro looms over you. And you have to run up an equally impressive slope to get to the bottom of Death Hill. 

By the time I reached the bottom of Death Hill, Mr Speedy had finished and come back down to find me, admitting afterwards that he had expected to wait a lot longer for me than he did. He jogged up beside me as I basically cried that I could absolutely NOT do this (I was doing it) and I overtook maybe 4 or 5 others on the way to the top. It really was brutal. And SO FECKING HOT. 

Somehow, I’ve no idea how, but SOMEHOW I found the beans in my legs to beast the finish with an impressive (or not) sprint and even heard a chap say “Christ I’m amazed she has that much energy left”. Oh yeah, bitches. Check my impressive stride…. 

There were snickers bars and MEDALS! How lovely! Not the usual script for teeny races but an ace surprise. 

£15 was decent value for money for a race that was VERY well marshalled ( by some wonderful people!), well organised and provided refreshments and bling. Thoroughly recommended (but practise hills. Honestly.) 

My time: 1:17.53

Brian: 1:02.56 

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Maraftermath

I’ve loved writing about training for marathons (oh yeah… plural! That technically makes me an expert now) and writing about what happens when you run them. So it was about time that I wrote about what happens afterwards. This is just based on my own personal experiences and everyone is aware that I’m odd, but it’s always fun to share….

The Hunger

Be prepared in the days (and weeks) following a marathon, to wish to eat everything in sight. Twice. And then have pudding. It’s probably acceptable to “refeed” for the first few days and carbs, fiber and protein are the way to do that sensibly. Plenty of vegetables, water, pasta and chicken, right? Wrong. Bring on the donner meat, biscuits, cake and copious tea because “behold. I have just run a marathon. Bring to me cake and shower me with pasta and praise”.

And that’s ok. What probably is not ok is still maintaining that dietary approach 4 weeks later. My trousers definitely suggest that I need to quit the biscuits and start being sensible again.

Sigh.

The Medal Wearing

Thou shalt sport thy finishers medal for a minimum of 3 days and then carry it in your handbag for when you bump into people in Tesco and want to brandish it at them. “Hi yes my handbag is awfy heavy because of this enormous bit of bling”.

Remember that the only people allowed to wear your medal are you and children under the age of 10. Anyone else is an impostor and a fraud with no concept of what you’ve actually just been through and they must be attacked immediately if found wearing your medal. If they ask to wear it, just politely question them to see if they too have just completed a marathon. If the answer is anything other than “yes look at my finishers t shirt and this kebab I am enjoying it is my third today because I have just run a marathon” then punch them in the face and hobble away. (Don’t run. you probably can’t.)

The Finishers T-shirt Wearing

Largely acceptable for a week. I WISH I worked somewhere where finishers t shirts were an acceptable form of office attire. But alas. Never mind. I shall wear it immediately upon arriving home and at every available public opportunity. It is especially important that once you are able (and willing) to run again after the event, that you wear your finishers t shirt with pride and a grimace as your body makes you suffer for wanting to run again after 26.2 miles.

Try not to wear your marathon finishers tee to do a 10k. Or any race of a lesser distance. It’s a bit ‘boasty’. Especially if, like me, you’re not quick or you don’t, like me, possess terribly enviable form. I quite enjoy that EMF gave me two t shirts. One with 26.2 emblazoned on the back in GIANT LETTERS THAT CAN BE READ FROM MILES AWAY, and one which just states “2014” leaving fellow runners to guess which distance I completed that weekend. I’ve been tempted to wear my Aberfeldy 70.3 shirt a few times but no. That one doesn’t get worn for training. That one just gets worn for smugness.

(I will be a nightmare if I ever become an Ironman)

The Sleep.

The night after a marathon, your brain and legs will be buzzing. Everything will tell you to PLEASE OH MY WORD PLEASE GO TO SLEEP and then just as you close your eyes you’ll remember A Thing or your calves with spontaneously go into spasm and then before you know it you’re on facebook and it’s 4am.

I actually find that two nights after the event is when I have The Giant Sleep. A sleep so deep that an elephant could fart in my ear and I wouldn’t even flinch.

Reliving the Event

This is the great bit and it doesn’t go away! To say “I’ve run a marathon” is a bloody brilliant thing. To say “I’ve actually run TWO marathons” is even more incredible. But to be able to say you’ve run the LONDON marathon is something I doubt I’ll ever get my head around. Your eyes will glaze over as your brain skillfully blocks out the portaloos, the sounds of shuffling feet and exhaustion, the sweaty strangers hand from a high five, the smell of deep heat and nervous fart and the pain (oh my god the PAIN) of covering 26.2 miles. You will say “it was wonderful” and recount tales of cheering crowds and landmarks (If you’re doing Edinburgh now, there are none. Not a single one. sorry. They demolished THE ONLY LANDMARK. Rubbish).

The Forgetting of The Pain

I imagine that this is a similar chemical reaction to what happens after a birth. The brain makes you forget what actually just happened. So you go online and you sign up for next years race before you can even bend down to tie your own shoe laces.

The glory of crossing the line, getting free stuff and generally basking in your own amazingness never gets old. Enjoy this. You deserve it!

Obsessively Checking for Finishers Pics

And then hating almost every single one because your thighs look shit. Seriously, camera men. I know you have hunners of folk to snap but at least try to make them flattering. (I actually doubt there is such a thing as a flattering photo anywhere during a marathon…) I managed to select a tiny number from 41 images where my thighs didn’t look like they were trying to peel themselves off my body and crawl away…

The Immune System’s Revenge

Steer clear of anyone you know who is remotely poorly after a marathon. In fact, turn your house into a germ-free bubble and refuse to leave for anything except more food. Because, when you least expect it, you will wake up with a HORRIBLE AILMENT that will strike you down for MUCH longer than you’re used to. My tonsils became incredibly disgusting within 8 days of London. And I was sick for nearly two weeks. Antibiotics and ALL the vitamins did virtually nothing until my body chilled the hell out and decided to be fine again.

Your body has been through a lot. Months of training and preparing for this and then the immediate drop in adrenaline leave you susceptible to all sorts of nasty shit. Feel free to punch anyone who sneezes in your vicinity. But make sure you wear sterile gloves while you punch them.

Finally….

Treat Yourself

Whether it’s to new-and-not-stinky kit, new-and-not-stinky trainers, a holiday or some time off. Make sure you take some time to enjoy your achievement for yourself. Look after your body. And allow yourself time to recover before you throw yourself into the next challenge.

And welcome to the club!

 

 

With age comes wisdom. 

I turned 30 on May 6th. Not old. Not even a scary age, but a landmark none the less. I looked back on my 20’s of which the first 50% was fuelled by terrible choices, terribler tequila and terriblerer dietary decisions. The last 50% was fuelled by free Haribo and new bikes! 

With plenty to look forward to, I was relieved to have a bit of time to relax after London. 

However…. Last weekend, my throat became ‘a bit sciency’ and I felt literally as though someone had found an off switch. Zero energy. Zero awake. Zero sparkle. 

I lamented on what I’d pulled my body and mind through over the last few months. Redundancy, uncertainty, the small matter of a marathon. All of these things (and more because #feelz) had clearly suddenly sunk in and my body gave up. 

But it’s ok because I was also about to get stuck in to the Etape on the 8th….

By Monday it was pretty apparent that I had quite a nasty bout of tonsillitis. Plagued in my formative years I knew the signs and tried to kill it with fire* but it had other ideas. 

(*vitamins and rest) 

The out of hours doctor (who used her Galaxy S5’s torch to check them…) decided that I should be put on 10 days of penicillin. “We always prescribe 10 days” 

I have never in my life been prescribed 10 days of Penicillin. But seeing as my medical degree is mostly 11 seasons of Grey’s Anatomy, and googling any symptom I ever experience, I thanked her and started taking them. 

Clearly the infection had gotten it’s disgusting claws in deep. The Penicillin may as well have been Haribo. 

My GP rolled his eyes on Wednesday, gave me a decent dose of a different antibiotic (which will now be known as The One That Makes Me Want To Hide Inside Forever And Not Move) and it’s got rid of the majority of the Petrie dish that had appeared in my throat. 

This week of sofa-dwelling and insomnia left me with a decision. I hadn’t really told anyone but I was desperately dreading Etape. I’ve no doubt that my legs could go the distance. But my back still struggles after a break from the saddle and I didn’t want to start my new job (YES YOU READ THAT RIGHT I GOT A JOB) on Monday with a gait like An Old and still nursing tonsils like golf balls. 

I decided to withdraw and I am not gutted. And the fact that I felt like a weight had been lifted told me everything I needed to know about how right that decision was. 

The 3am start would have been atrocious. Much less the 81 miles on a carbon road bike with less than 6 hours in the saddle this year so far. 

It was the best choice. 

There’s always a certain amount of unease for me going into any event I don’t feel 100% ready for. But life is too short to do anything you (and your body) don’t want to do. It’s not a case of chickening out. Sometimes you have to look at what you’ve achieved, how you’re healing and think about the impact of endurance sport on the body. 

Happily, I was spoiled rotten on my 30th. My family have gifted me with so many thoughtful presents that it was quite overwhelming. 

I’d also like you to meet my new bike (she is as yet unnamed). 


Weighing decidedly less than my faithful Diamondback (which weighs almost the same as my Mini) and with suspension and the most amazing spec, I was straight out on her this morning. Nothing too energetic but I DID get a QOM!


So 30 is looking like it’ll be fun! Here’s to throwing myself (gently) down the side of hills! 

No Rest for the Wicked

It seemed like SUCH a good idea at the time…. Entering Etape Caledonia and then getting a place in VLM. What’s 81 miles in highland Perthshire, 14 days after a marathon?!

C’est ne pas un problem! (If one has trained adequately) Because the cycling should provide excellent cross training for the running. Provided I can do either at the same time or really at any point in the run up to either of these events.

Oh.

Somewhat miraculously and despite injury woes and life-induced stress, I surprised myself at London with a 5:20 finish. At least I have endurance in my legs. And a little left in my mind…

My worry is my arse. My poor under-trained arse.

It’s covered a measly 407km in the saddle since January. I’m not going to sit here (comfortably in my chair) and wish I’d been less injured and sick (I wish I’d been less injured and sick). Instead I should focus on the fact that I know at least 50 miles of the 81 I’ll be covering. The loop round Loch Rannoch and the subsequent climb up Schiehallion were part of the Aberfeldy Middle Distance Triathlon route in August. (Remember my epic race pic? Well it’s being used to advertise the 2016 event!)


So it’s not the route that’s freaking me out. Nor is it nutrition. My wicker basket* will be proudly attached to my bars beside my garmin and fully stocked with pastries** and sandwiches***.

* Bento box

**PowerBar

***Shotblox

The fear of arse ache is real. Also there is the small issue that comes with enjoying being a solo bikist. Riding en masse terrifies me. Though not as majestic or hairy, I’m very much like a nervous horse while wobbling along on my Stella. I scare easily and will need to be VERY careful not to be too twitchy when surrounded by other cyclists. If I fuck up my own day, I can live with that. I couldn’t live with fucking up someone else’s race!

Descents are not my fave. Climbs are fine. I enjoy them, in fact. But descents, which usually follow a climb in Scotland, are not so enjoyable. Despite what my self-conscious lady brain would lead me to believe, I do not have gravity on my side, and I’ve yet to master braking hard without flying arse over tit into my wicker basket of pastry heaven. Actually that doesn’t sound too terrible…

81 miles is fine. It’s not scary. Coming last isn’t even scary anymore. Just like Ross from Friends, I am fine….. FINE.

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I’m hoping that by Sunday afternoon next week, my endurance adventure for 2016 will be done. I’ll be able to relax and get back into the sports I love so much at a pace that suits me. That, or find a sofa and NEVER LEAVE IT AGAIN FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE.

Not one to not have a plan, and still with an unshake-able love of cake that requires regular calorie-burning to accomodate (I really truly love cake),  I hope to build on confidence in corners and downhill through mountain biking (srsly). I’m looking forward to getting my running back on course and getting my CSS back from 1:55 to 1:45/100m in the pool in time for the Great Scottish Swim later in the year. And I’ll continue to build on my excellent strength improvements with coach.

I am keeping EVERYTHING crossed that the weather for this years Etape Caldedonia is better than it was last year. Scottish isn’t even enough of a description. Biblical would be better. Even if it just rains instead of being wet AND windy, then I’m fine with that. But PLEASE NOT BOTH.

On a positive note, I have been very pleasantly surprised at my recovery post marathon. If I remember Edinburgh’s aftermath, I was unable to bend my legs for several days. And stairs were out of the question for well over a week.

Somehow, I got on my bike on Tuesday. I “nipped” up some stairs quickly on Wednesday. I’ve been so OK that I keep expecting to wake up one day and not be able to move…. It’s almost like my body has FORGIVEN me. In record time. If it wasn’t for this bizarre sore throat and uber-tiredness I’d be off for a run today!

It’s this remarkable recovery that’s slightly unsettling. I think I’ll be spending this week not telling my arse what is about to happen to it.