Devilla 15k Race Report and updated training blurb…

I seem to be quite behind with everything so far this year. I think I left my brain in the hospital!

Official Time: 1 hour 15 minutes 47 seconds
Overall: 228 out of 508
Gender: 40 out of 204

Following the epic start to the racing season which was the Devil’s Burden hill race, the next event on the calendar was the Devilla 15k – a trail race around Devilla forest which is an amazing setting for a race and just 10 minutes up the road from us. Race day had an electric atmosphere, the weather was crisp, cold and beautiful and we had a 30 strong team of Wee County Harriers through to support our neighbouring club’s fantastic event.

Biggest club turn out we've ever had at an event I think!
Biggest club turn out we’ve ever had at an event I think!

This year the course had been meticulously checked and was extremely well marshalled after last years mishap of the course being “sabotaged” and ending up being nearly 2 miles short. Just before the race started we found as many WCH runners as possible and gathered together for a pre-race snap. This shows just how much our wee club has expanded recently and it only continues to grow!

I hadn’t yet decided how I was going to run this race. My legs were feeling slightly heavy from a hard week of training and the 30 mile training run we had done the previous weekend but mentally I was feeling strong and ready to take on whatever this race had to throw at me. This was another of my fail races from last year and I was determined to beat my abysmal time, even though I had an extra 2 or so miles to run. Last year I was running with practically no iron in my blood and my legs had pretty much no oxygen and every step had been a chore, but this year was different. This year I was determined to enjoy every step and finish with everything I had still had left in my legs and a smile on my face. Luckily it was much drier this year so the smiling wasn’t a problem! There were a few hair raising moments with icy patches and frozen mud which caused me to almost go over on my ankle more than once, but I somehow got round injury free!

I managed to keep quite an even pace for the first few miles, only slowing right down on the narrow sections where we shuffled along in single file until the path opened up again. Even the nasty hill at the half way point didn’t slow me down and I was pushing to get up to the top as quickly as I could for 2 main reasons. 1 being I could see two guys from the club up ahead and I was making up time on the hills and getting closer and closer to them and 2, there was a guy running beside me who would not stop burping!! Almost as off-putting as the guy who ran beside me and kept talking to himself in the 3rd person at a marathon a few months ago! Nearing the top of the hill I passed another 3 men (always a good feeling!) and rounding the corner and going on to the downhill I let my legs freewheel and got past another 2. Still gaining on, but not quite catching my team mates and knowing there was another narrow section ahead, I decided to hold back through this section and save my energy for the last 5k back through the forest. Once again this section was totally different from last year – it had been a total mud bath then and even trail shoes made no difference! This year it was still frozen over and although a bit technical, much easier to run on! The path eventually opened up and suddenly out of nowhere, 2 of my team mates flew by me! Nooooo, I had been doing so well not to let anyone catch me so far! The 2 I had gained on were still in my sight though and in the last 2k I was running side by side with them. But then they saw me and took off again. Damn, so close!

The last few kilometres are mostly downhill, but by now my hamstrings had tightened up and I couldn’t widen my stride so I just plodded as fast as I could round to the finish line. Job done, and 4 minutes faster than my previous attempt. That’ll do for now!

Last few kilometres and the focus face is on...
Last few kilometres and the focus face is on…

Onto the training side of things – I have been having SO much fun on my training runs recently. Weekend expeditions out to the West Highland Way with my running club friends have provided hours of crucial training for my upcoming ultras – The D33 in March,The Cateran 55 in May and the Devil of the Highlands in August. Along with a couple of marathons in the middle (London in April and Strathearn in June) and my brother and Jemma’s wedding in July, it’s one hell of a busy year!

But when weekends look like this, there’s no time to feel tired…









Even when you fall over and scrape your knee off a rock, there’s no reason to stop smiling!

Happy training everyone.

Photo thanks to Gordon McNeil, Derek Fish and David Neill.

And finally there is a solution to the problem…

Apologies once again for the lack of activity around these parts recently. My running has been basically non existent since the beginning of the year and any running I have done has been met with pain, fatigue or just no motivation what so ever and it has left me baffled as I was doing so well right up until mid December. Then I just seemed to hit a brick wall and I’ve been dragging my heels ever since. My training was going down hill, I was unbelievably empty and I came home from countless training sessions in tears. I just couldn’t run any more and I felt I was watching all my hard work from the last year slip away from me. Just over 4 months ago I had completed a marathon and an ultra marathon 6 weeks apart and I was feeling stronger than ever and now, nothing. No drive, no push, no energy. Nothing.

But there is a light at the end of the hugely long, dark and damp tunnel.

After feeling rotten for far too long and dropping way back in the pack at training, due to not even being able to lift my legs and feeling tired after the first mile, I decided to go to the doctors. He recommended I get a blood test to check my iron levels and low and behold – I’m highly anaemic! I’d read a lot about anaemia before I went for my blood tests as when I went for a sports massage in February my therapist, being a keen hill runner herself, mentioned it was quite a common occurrence in female long distance runners. I went home and googled it all and realised suffered from ever single symptom. So when my test results came back and my theory was confirmed I was quite relived that now I had an answer and with a course of iron tablets to take for the next however long, I’d hopefully be back to my best.

However this was all found out after I had performed terribly at the ‘sabotaged’ Devilla 15k. I knew from the start I wasn’t going to run well and yet my stubbornness made me go along and do it anyway. Big mistake. From 2 miles in I was huffing and puffing and my legs didn’t want to go on. Had I been on my own I would definitely have pulled out about then as I was just not enjoying it, but as I was running with a few club mates who were pushing me on, I decided to stick with it.

Before all the glorious mud. Shiny just washed shoes!!
Before all the glorious mud. Shiny just washed shoes!!
No matter how bad a race, I'll somehow always find  smile when necessary. This smile masks the pain!
No matter how bad a race, I’ll somehow always find smile when necessary. This smile masks the pain!

Jemma did a fabby race report so I won’t go into detail, but feeling the way I did on the day I was quite glad that the course had somehow been shortened. When I passed the 10k marker and my watch only said I’d ran 5.3 miles I was confused but when I ran past the spray painted 13k sign on the ground, I was secretly overjoyed. I was done in and the finish line couldn’t come soon enough. All the way through the race my club mate Karen had stuck with me and pushed me on, which she didn’t have to do as this was her race as well, but I was so thankful she was with me. At a race in the future it will be my turn to return the support to someone else and I will gladly do it. It really spurs you on when you are feeling at your lowest and that you have no more push in you muscles.

Soaked to the core and failing through fatigue, but I'll still smile for you Mr camera man!
Soaked to the core and failing through fatigue, but I’ll still smile for you Mr camera man!
Wee County runers turned out en masse for the Devilla run. And we kicked butt :)
Wee County runers turned out en masse for the Devilla run. And we kicked butt 🙂

So now I have a diagnosis I guess I just have to bide my time and inhale iron. I’ve had to pull out of 2 of my favourite races so far this year – the Alloa half which I had high hoped for a pb in and also the scenic Loch Katrine half. My next big run after that is at the end of April when I should be sweeping the Highland Fling. No matter how rubbish I’m feeling I’ll be doing that. Can’t wait to meet up with all my Ultra buddies at the end and celebrate with them!

Anaemia – you suck.