RACE REPORT – The River Ayr Way Challenge 2017

The River Ayr Way Challenge

TIME: 6 Hours 26 Minutes and 45 Seconds

OVERALL : 10th/69 finishers

GENDER: 1st/15 females

After a few months of a blog hiatus I think I’ve finally found my run and write mojo again! My recovery from the Great Glen was slow, painful and tedious and even after a 2 week holiday which was spent gallivanting around Eastern Europe and over a month of “easier” training, I still didn’t have the desire to push myself 100%. Even new kit didn’t inspire me and my lack of speed was really getting me down as I watched friends getting faster and faster and I was struggling to complete an interval session without getting frustrated.

And then something suddenly felt right again. Whether I had just taken some pressure off myself or had finally recovered from the pounding I put my body through at the Great Glen, I don’t know. But I finally felt positive about my running again, I wasn’t feeling out of breath after the first mile and I was ready to get things back on track. After a few months of deciding what races I really wanted to focus on in the latter part of the year (I think this plan changed about 5 or 6 times, but I think I’ve finally got it right!), the River Ayr Way Challenge was chosen to be my next big push.
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The Great Glen Ultra Marathon – RACE REPORT

THE GREAT GLEN ULTRA MARATHON 2017

TIME: 13 Hours 18 Minutes and 55 Seconds

Overall position: 11th/63 finishers (13 DNF)

2nd/17 females

A BAM haul. Best birthday ever 🙂

The Great Glen has been quoted as being “one of Scotland’s toughest ultra marathons” and after Saturdays excursion, I wholeheartedly agree! This was to be my second biggest race to date and my ‘A’ race of this year. I had put so much into my training in the first 6 months of the year and with only a few blips in my training schedule I was more than ready to get going.

On the Friday afternoon I finished up at work after what hadn’t been an ideal week. A cold appeared on Monday, plus I was covering fitness classes and 1-2-1 lessons right up until I left at 1pm on Friday after a very sweaty aqua aerobics class, so definitely not the ideal taper. However I was raring to go so after a quick shower, a last minute packing of everything apart from the kitchen sink and then unpacking everything to make sure I had indeed remembered my trainers, I was ready to go. Craig gave me a lift up to the station and I was finally on my way North.
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The final countdown…

The hidden trails after Rowardennan. Definitely worth hunting out.
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The swimming term is coming to an end and just as well as I am completely exhausted. The kids have been bouncing off the walls for close to a month now, knowing that the summer holidays are fast approaching and my staff and I are counting down the minutes until the term ends! Then it’s straight on to fitness class cover which isn’t really the perfect preparation for a huge race, but needs must and I’ll just keep the impact low and my drill sergeant voice on top form!

As ever, I’ve found the whole work/life/training balance hard and I’m still not getting it quite right. I took on a few more 1-2-1 swimming lessons in my own time, so even on beautiful nights I found myself heading home after work, putting a cushion over my head on the couch to block out the light and passing out for a good 20 minutes before getting out to do my training. I’ve been following a Neil MacNicol training programme now since March and I’m definitely feeling stronger and leaner, but also 10 times more knackered and still haven’t found my love for speed work. Does anyone ever? I do struggle with speed work on my own, but with very little time to now get to running club I find if I have a plan I will (mostly) follow it even if I don’t really feel like it. My speed will come back, for now it’s all about the endurance.
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RACE REPORT – The Cateran 55 Ultra marathon

CATERAN 55 ULTRA MARATHON 2017

TIME:10 Hours 34 Minutes and 4 Seconds

OVERALL :27th/92 finishers (8 DNF)

GENDER: 4th/26 females

My first attempt at the Cateran in 2015 was the first time I’d ran further than 33 miles. I was nervous and probably a little under trained having just come back from injury but I had a great day out and finished in a not too shabby 11 hours 30 minutes. Heading up this year I had an idea of what time I wanted and sourced some splits from check point to check point from previous races. I noted these down with the plan to jot them on my hand the following morning as a rough guide.

After work on Friday I headed home, finished my packing and headed through to Stirling to pick up Lois who was marshalling and then head North to Glenshee. Once again I was staying in the Gulabin Lodge which is right on the start line and meant not too much stressing about time and getting things done before the race. Once we arrived I went about registering, picking up my lovely kit bag memento (an awesome light blue colour this year), saying hi to all my friends and finding my room. I was staying in a room with the lovely Stonehaven ladies: Claire, Jo and Lindsay and being the last to arrive was up on the top bunk of a seriously shoogly bed. Every time I moved the whole bed shook, so apologies to Jo if you felt like there was an earthquake during the night!!
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Don’t give up if you fall at the first hurdle

Every race can’t run smoothly and last weekend I discovered that the hard way.

I’d had a pretty good start to the year at the Devilla 15k on the 19th February. As usual it attracted hundreds of runners, keen to kick start their racing season with a wonderful mud bath and as always it didn’t disappoint! Not the muddiest I’ve seen it in the 5 years I’ve been taking part, but definitely a competitor for the top spot in places. The race started bang on time and I’d tried to sneak my way up the field in order to get ahead of the masses before the bottleneck about 2 miles in. Unfortunately I was still further back than I thought and again slowed to a shuffle though the narrow sections of the trail as the crowds went single file through the bogs. Anyone who did try to overtake in this section usually ended up face planting deep into the mud or losing a shoe in the deeper sections of the bog, so I decided to hang fire and wait until the trails to open up again before trying to pick up some speed. This is much easier said than done when your shoes are caked in mud and you’re carrying the extra weight of the mud. The track was much slippier than usual due to the forestry commission having done some tree felling recently and I found myself having to work a lot harder in places that are usually pretty simple trails.
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