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.

RACE REPORT – Glen Ogle 33m Ultra

Glen Ogle 2014

Official time: 5 hours 41 minutes 18 seconds

Overall: 113th/237 finishers (4th out of 12 senior ladies)

Medal : Yes, (same design as last year) and an awesome Tshirt as well

Before I get started, I’d like to apologise for the fact that my blog seems to just be a steady stream of race reports recently. The plan was always to update it more often with training/life/etc as well… but the whole life/work/training/sleeping balance has been way off recently. However, I plan to rectify that asap!

The only thing worth drinking after an ultra marathon!
The only thing worth drinking after an ultra marathon!

The Glen Ogle ultra was my first attempt at racing distances over 26.2m around this time last year. I had done all the training for Loch Ness and keeping the miles ticking over until race day 6 weeks later had been pretty easy and enjoyable. I had no major injuries and my legs were feeling good come race day. Fast forward a year and it’s take 2 of the same events, but stick the Jedburgh half, a cold and a sore hip into the mix and you can just about imagine how I felt as I rocked up to the start line this year.

I had been looking forward to the race for months. I put my name down as soon as entries opened and then with so much other stuff to focus on in my racing calendar (including my 45 min 10k and sub 4 hour marathon!), completely forget to get excited about it until about a week before race day! On the Friday evening before the race, Jemma made the 300 odd mile journey down from Ness in the Isle of Lewis to meet me in the central belt and not 10 minutes after she had got off the coach, we were stuffing out faces with pizza and catching up on wedding planning gossip. Priorities first of course! After filling our faces with a substantial number of carbs, we headed back to mine where we sorted our drop bags and kit and after some cheesy tv we headed off to catch z’s and prepare for the super early start the next day.

My perfect pre race dinner!
My perfect pre race dinner!
Taking way less than I did last year! Did't even eat all this, but the coke was definitely a saviour!
Taking way less than I did last year! Once again didn’t eat even half of it, but the coke was definitely a saviour!

My alarm went off just before 5am and after having an amazing breakfast of porridge with nutella and blueberries and a vast amount of coffee, we were in the car and on the road over to Killin. This year there had been a slight adjustment to the route at the last minute meaning we were no longer starting in Strathyre and were going to do the route in reverse with a little bit extra added on at the end. This meant all my lovely down hills near the end were going to be up hills near the end and vice versa… nothing like a last minute shake up to keep the mind alert 30 odd miles later! After registering and meeting up with the other Wee County Harriers, we had a quick briefing from Bill and Mike and before we knew it, we were walking round to the very narrow trail where the race would begin. The weather was very, very mild and any worries of a repeat of last years weather eased off and I decided to run in a long sleeved top with just a t shirt underneath. Jemma was so confident about good weather she didn’t even take her jacket with her!


The first few miles were very stop/start as we tried to find our pace while avoiding puddles and having to run along a very narrow track. Soon enough we were spat out onto a road for a few hundred metres before taking a sharp left and beginning a short climb into the bottom of the forest loop which we had met at about 17 miles when the route was the other way around last year. The positive thing about this would be that one of the worst climbs was out the way within the first 4 miles! I ran with Kirsty, trying to slow our pace down and not set off too quickly on fresh legs or get carried away too early on. We were having so much fun, walking the steep climbs and flying down the descents and having a good chat the whole way round. We passed through the first check point and began our descent down the cycle path towards Lochearnhead, forcing down a gel at 6 miles and keeping the pace steady and consistent. The weather looked like it really was going to stay in our favour and I had to take my long sleeved top and buff off as I was already getting too hot!

Spotting the camera from afar.
Spotting the camera from afar.

As we approached the very steep descent on the zig zags just as we came into Lochearnhead, I felt a horrible twinge in my back and began to panic. This was too early for things like this to be happening!! I hoped it was just because I had quite a lot of water in my pack and it was slightly heavier than usual, so I decided to empty some of the weight out as we continued to fly along the cycle track and immediately noticed a difference. Fingers crossed I wouldn’t come to regret that decision later on in the race!! Kirsty was looking a lot stronger than I felt, so I made the decision at that point to push her on if the time came where I needed to pull back. She kept saying she was going to stay with me, so we pushed on and continued to enjoy the run.

Trying hard not to step on the poor photographers head as he lay in the middle of the track :) Photo - Ross Lawrie
Trying hard not to step on the poor photographers head as he lay in the middle of the track 🙂 Photo – Ross Lawrie

We passed through check point 2 and once again didn’t stop. I forced a few shot bloks in my mouth and we decided to walk the next few hills and shake out our legs a bit. The next few miles were the ups and down round to Balquhidder which was the point where I had wanted to quit last year as my whole body had gone numb from the cold. This year we were just over 13 miles in and feeling warm (and dry!) and still pretty fresh, so it felt good to be able to push through and conquer our demons. We ran on, all the way round to just before we got to Strathyre where we clocked a hill and both gave a little yell of delight as we were both in need a walk! The constant pavement pounding was beginning to make my back hurt again and we were starting to tire a bit. However we knew that Richard from out club was waiting, camera in hand, to cheer us on in Strathyre, so we flew over the shoogly bridge with our arms in the air and cheered at him as we ran by.

Dressed slightly differently from last years picture in this exact spot! Are we sure this is November? Photo - Richard O'Grady
Dressed slightly differently from last years picture in this exact spot! Are we sure this is November? Photo – Richard O’Grady

This was where the finish line had been last year, so it took a bit of effort to push past where we had stopped last time, knowing we were just over half way and had a huge climb ahead as we entered the second forest. We were ushered across the road by John Munro who was a vision in head to toe high vis and were all laughs and jokes until we hit the climb. The route had been slightly altered at this section as well and as we gritted our teeth and shuffled up the hill. I felt like there was someone behind me pulling me backwards again – It was just so steep!! We walked all the way up to the top, hands on thighs and leaning forward trying to catch our breath remembering that once this was out the way there was a lovely 2-3 mile downhill run all the way back to check point 3. Cue photo opportunity with a genuine smile…

Photo - Amanda Hamilton
Photo – Amanda Hamilton

We stopped briefly at checkpoint 3 to pick up some coke and a few jaffa cakes and within 2 minutes we were back on the path back to Killin. This is the point where my mind started to play mental games with me and I gave in to it. I needed to go to the loo and Kirsty said she’d walk on so I could catch her up, but I felt like I was holding her back so I told her just to push on and I’d try and catch her eventually. I was glad I did tell her to go on and she ended up smashing her last years time by 9 minutes, but once on my own, I really started to struggle. The climb back out of Lochearnhead killed my already trashed quads and the zig zags felt steeper than ever before. Once at the top I tried to keep my head up and look ahead and ran to a set of gates before letting myself walk again. I pulled out my ipod and an upbeat playlist helped me push to the top of the cycle path and road crossing back to the forest. On entering the final check point I was handed my drop bag by the ever super cheery marshals and quizzed about my socks once again. Noanie and Bill ushered me across the road and after being told I only had 4 and a bit miles to go, I decided to really dig deep and go for it. The wonderful Ruth Howie got the crowd cheering as I passed by the snack van and they made such a racket I felt like I’d finished – what a fabulous sound! Just before I started my descent back into the forest the amazing Robin Wombill told me I had a fabulous smile and grinning from ear to ear, I flew round the next 2 miles of the forest track feeling like I had a second wind and it was time to finish this race with power. I looked at my watch for the first time in hours and realised I’d passed the distance of last year course and was still under the time it’d had taken me to do that, so even though I was feeling a lot sorer I was actually performing (albeit just slightly!) better. I got to the bottom of the forest track, turned left back onto the main road and followed the road over the Falls of Dochart and back down the high street towards the finish line in the sports field. Through both utter fatigue and it not being that well signposted, I couldn’t for the life of me tell where I was meant to go to get to the finishers arch, until I saw a High Vis clad figure that was Angela, waving her arms in the air and jumping up and down to get my attention. I squelched over the grass, grinned and punched the air as I fell over the line and collected my second Glen Ogle medal.

Job done.
Job done.

Once we had cheered everyone in, we headed to the Inn at Strathyre for our soup and a drink where we caught up with various people before heading home for plenty of good food and some well deserved drinks. I know I wasn’t feeling 100% on race day and it showed in my results, but it just shows that you can’t work for so many different goals in one year and expect a good outcome in all of them. My speed will take a back seat next year as I want to focus on distance and power and with my eyes on the D33, Cateran 55 and DOTH next year as well as Glen Ogle round 3…something will have to give for a while. It’ll probably be my knees, but we’ll see!

Elated we got cider instead of beer this year! And I've sill got high hopes of my mug shot making the bottle next year...
Elated we got cider instead of beer this year! And I’ve sill got high hopes of my mug shot making the bottle next year…

Too many holidays and a change of heart.

I’ve had a fantastic summer so far. 3 weeks of sailing around the Baltic sea with Craig and my family and managing to visit Estonia, Russia, Finland and Sweden, as well as many islands in between in that time….I’ve now come back to reality with a bump.

My plans for the next few weeks were originally:
– Get back to training asap after doing very little while away
– Run the Highland Perthshire marathon in September as a long training run
– Try and beat my PB at the Stirling 10K (which would mean a PB in every distance this year!)
– Run the Clyde Stride 40 mile ultra at the end of September.

However, for a while now I’ve not been feeling the drive to run the Clyde Stride. When I think about how excited I was before Glen Ogle or Strathearn, I realise I’m not getting the same feeling about this race. Whether it’s because I haven’t managed to go and run any of the route in advance or because I’ve done very few miles in the past month, I just wasn’t looking forward to it. So instead of running a race I wasn’t particularly feeling up for, I decided (with very little persuasion from Jemma!) to sign up for the Loch Ness marathon and see if I can break the elusive 4 hour barrier time before the year is out.

Not really anywhere to run out here....
Not really anywhere to run out here….

I’m much more excited about running Loch Ness again as now I know the course and I know where the hills are. I know not to go out too fast on the first downhill section and also not the give up on the nasty hill around 19 miles in. I know to take more gels and carry some paracetamol in case my knee starts to hurt again. Running a marathon in under 4 hours is my ultimate goal for the rest of this year. After taking 12 minutes off my time at the tricky Strathearn marathon, I feel I should be more than capable of it on this course, but after swanning around on holiday for weeks, has all my hard work and training taken a back seat?


With 4 weeks of hard work ahead of me, it’s time to really put some effort in.

And the training cycle goes round and round…..

With my energy levels having returned to normal, I’m glad to be back and training with gusto once more. The Strathearn marathon is a mere 7 and a half weeks away and my training is pretty much going to plan. I say pretty much as you always need to make exceptions for unplanned nights out, injuries and the odd bad day at work that can only be sorted with a couch, mind numbing television and a nice glass of your favourite Sauvignon blanc….

However, with tired blood a thing of the past (fingers crossed!) and muscles nearly back to the tip-top condition they were in at the end of last year, the runs are getting longer, much more comfortable and I find myself even wanting to incorporate hills into the equation.

This weeks training has gone something like this:

Sunday – 11 miles (of wind, rain, hills and lots of swear words)
Monday – 5 miles on road
Tuesday – 6.5 miles of “undulations”
Wednesday – rest
Thursday – club training – intervals and a few hills (7.5 miles)
Friday – weights
Saturday – 20 miles

If all goes to plan tomorrow I’ll have clocked about 48 miles this week and come tomorrow evening I can happily kick my shoes off, take the weight off my weary feet and enjoy my long lie the following morning. This will be the most miles I have covered in a week in a long, long time. I have my training schedule stuck to my fridge with my weekly mileage targets highlighted on it and every time I see it I feel an urge just to put my trainers on and get out that second. Obviously not always possible as usually when I see it I’m either on my way to work or on my way to bed… but at least I have to running bug back. I WANT to run again.

Spring running. It's just too cute!!
Spring running. It’s just too cute!!

The first race on my schedule (and the first I will get to properly race this year after my failure to function properly at Devilla in February!) is the Loch Leven half marathon on the 10th of May. Not only will it let me try out my racing legs for the first time this year but it also ties very nicely into my training programme. I’ll just have to make sure I haven’t pushed too hard during the week and that I’ve got something left in the tank come race day! I’m not going out with too much of a target in mind. As long as I have a comfortable race and I come in fairly close to my PB I’ll be happy. But you never know what will happen on race day, so I won’t count my chickens and all that. I’m getting nervous just thinking about it just now. The last time I raced with any speed in my legs at all was at the end of November at the Hartley Cup Relays and even then I was still a bit zapped post Ultra!

However that said, I need to get my head back in the racing game and learn to push myself – comfort should no longer be an option. I could easily bash out mile after mile at a steady pace and go on like that until the cows come home, but as soon as I take it up a notch things start to hurt and I pull back. Where’s that going to get me? I need to learn to focus more at races. This shouldn’t be comfortable and if I’ve got enough left for a sprint finish then I haven’t been trying hard enough earlier on in the race. Training needs to go up a notch and the miles need to be banked week in, week out. NO EXCUSES!! (Except for the odd wine/flake on the couch/bad day etc., etc….)

There's always time for a treat after clocking up the miles!
There’s always time for a treat after clocking up the miles!

After the Loch Leven half, Jemma (my new sister-in-law to be!!) and I will be travelling down to Campbeltown to take part in one of the most scenic half marathons in the county – the Mull of Kintyre half. This is going to be a run to enjoy myself on, rather than a race, in part because some of it is on sand (not that I’m trying to get the excuses in early or anything!) and also because I want to take in some of the views and remember this race. I’m sure there’s a reason it sells out in 10 days or less and has been voted “most scenic half marathon in the UK” for the last 4 years. No point in travelling over 150 miles just to get out of breath and come home again. In this case, it’s NOT all about the racing…

In June I will meet my nemesis once more – the marathon. This time I will be tackling the Strathearn marathon, surrounded by my friends and team mates as I battle to get closer to the 4 hour marathon mark. Sub 4? Who knows, again I’m not going to count my chickens, but I know I have it in me to get much closer to the 4 hour mark for 26.2 miles. Again, it’s all in the training and I will be rambling on about my marathon training in more detail as the weeks go on and we get ever closer to the event.

My new post training fuel.  Absolutely delicious!!
My new post training fuel. Absolutely delicious!!
Remember to treat yourself lots after long mileage... it's well deserved!
Remember to treat yourself lots after long mileage… it’s well deserved!

The biggest goal of the year (so far!) is the Clyde Stride 40 mile Ultra marathon in September and my main aim for this race is to try and run the whole way. In preparation for this I will be doing many, MANY long slow runs where I really dial back the pace and just keep going for as long as I can. I can’t imagine what 40 miles will feel like quite yet, but I’m sure after clocking hundreds and hundreds of miles in the lead up to it I’ll have a fair idea of the fatigue and stiffness that I may endure on the way! When I tell people that’s my next goal many of them just laugh. I’m so glad I have my running community for support and advice. I never laugh at anyone’s dreams. What gives me the right to? I’d never, ever do a bungee jump or a sky dive, or paraglide off the side of a mountain because that’s just not me. But if someone else wants to do it, by all means go for it! Tell me about your adventures afterwards and I’ll listen. One thing you’ll never hear me say is “pfffft, why on earth would you want to do that?!? That’s just stupid!” Each to their own…

So as the evenings get longer and as my motivation to go out and run as soon as I finish work returns, I feel I’m in a for a good summer of training. Next Saturday I will be making my way with hundreds of others to the start line of the Highland Fling – a 53 mile Ultra marathon that takes place on the first half of the West Highland Way. I still don’t feel ready to take part in this event so this year Jemma and I will be sweeping the first half of the race from Milngavie to Rowardennan. Of course we’ll have jelly babies and treats galore, so look out for us and hopefully we’ll spur you on and push you along if need be. I’m really looking forward to meeting more members of the Ultra running community whose blogs I have been reading or who I have met through twitter/facebook over the past few years. I’m so excited and honoured to be given a role in this great event and also can’t wait for a wee knees up at the Ceilidh afterwards (that’s if any of you can still move…)

See you at the finish line!

More sushi please!!
More sushi please!!

Glen Ogle 33 Ultra Marathon – RACE REPORT


Official time: 5 hours 41 minutes 58 seconds

Overall: 105 out of 180

Medal : Yes

Wasn't expecting a medal, so am very chuffed with this beauty!
Wasn’t expecting a medal, so am very chuffed with this beauty!

Yesterday I became an ultra runner.

At 4:50am my alarm went off and I got up after a very broken nights sleep. Once again my mind had been racing right up until I fell into a running filled dream – mostly dreaming I had forgotten something very important for the race! I forced down breakfast, had a shower, double and triple checked my drop bags and then paced around the house waiting for Kirsty to pick me up at 6am. My drop bags had been a big source of worry for me as this was the first race I had taken part in where I needed them. I had read plenty of blogs where runners have taken various means of fuel from bananas and crisps to full on meals of wraps and cups of tea! I decided to stick with things I thought would go down easily enough on the run and this is what I came up with….

Various means of getting the calories back in. None of which really to appealed to me on the day!
Various means of getting the calories back in. None of which really to appealed to me on the day!

6am came and Kirsty arrived with Andy and we began our 50 minute or so journey up to Strathyre. As the sun came up, we had various thoughts about the weather. The sky was bright but it was very cold and there was a low lying mist over the hills and fields. I thought it looked too nice to be true and then I started to worry about my choice of kit. I’m not a big fan of running in trousers so chose to wear shorts and calf sleeves. I knew that even though we’d be running for hours, it probably wouldn’t be at too fast a pace, so I thought layers were better to begin with and that I could lose them at check points if need be. So I decided to wear a t shirt under a long sleeved top with my club vest on top and then have my jacket attached to my bag, just in case it might rain (hah!) and then also my buff and gloves. Surely that lot would keep me warm enough?!

We arrived in Strathyre not long after 7am, met up with the rest of our friends from the club who were also running, registered, sorted out drop bags and went back and forth to the toilets for the next wee while. We were all summoned at about 7.50am for a pre-race briefing by Bill and Mike and then we walked en-masse across the main road to the starting point and the bottom of the trail. This was it. Definitely no turning back or pulling out now. I was about to venture past racing distances of 26.2 miles for the first time. I was about to become an ultra runner.

WCH (minus Andy) ready to enter the world of Ultra running! (Except George, he's been there already!)
WCH (minus Andy) ready to enter the world of Ultra running! (Except George, he’s been there already!)
Kirsty and Catriona. Clearly ready to battle whatever this course throws at them.
Kirsty and Catriona. Clearly ready to battle whatever this course throws at them.

Before I knew it we were on our way. I had been too busy talking I hadn’t heard the race start! The first few miles go straight up a hill. I knew I’d have to pull back as I have a bad habit of setting off far too fast and burning out early, so we decided to stick to 10 minute miles for the first while and see how we got on. Before I knew it we had clocked up 2 miles and the first set of hills were over. I’d been concentrating so hard on what was going on around me and spotting various faces of bloggers/awesome ultra runners that I hadn’t been paying attention to my mileage. There was an awesome downhill section through the forest that went on for about 3 miles and we were again concious of pulling back and keeping our mile splits fairly even. We flew by the first drop point, not needing to pick anything up and I made sure I had a gel and a good amount of fluids as we plodded along the cycle track that runs alongside the main road down to Lochearnhead. Since the last time we had run this route, a lot of pine needles had fallen and the track was lovely and springy under foot. Just what we needed with so many miles still to cover and all the tarmac at the end! As we left Lochearnhead, the path took a very steep incline and Kirsty and I decided to power shuffle up it instead of running and Andy, looking strong powered on up it ahead. These zig-zags were steep and again I thought I didn’t want to burn out, so I held back until we reached the top of the hill and then it was a nice steady plod along the old railway which runs alongside the A85 and over the Glen Ogle viaduct. I had seen this countless time from the road when travelling north to tackle Munros, but running over it was a whole new experience!

The Glen Ogle Viaduct as seen from the road. Image courtesy of
The Glen Ogle Viaduct as seen from the road. Image courtesy of

Mile splits to check point 2:
1 10:29.6
2 10:56.4
3 9:39.2
4 9:12.1
5 9:21.6
6 9:27.2
7 9:50.2
8 11:23.9
9 9:53.3
10 9:38.0
11 10:50.1

Coming in to check point 2. Photo - Fiona Rennie
Coming in to check point 2. Photo – Fiona Rennie
On the way back to check point 3. Soaked through already. Photo - Fiona Rennie
On the way back to check point 3. Soaked through already. Photo – Fiona Rennie

We stopped in the check point just to empty rubbish out our pockets and take another gel while standing still and after a minute or so we were on our way again, heading up to the forest loop. My club mates and I ran this loop last week just to see what it was like… but we ran it the wrong way around and so what we thought we the awesome downhill sections were actually the most horrific inclines. See elevation below – the big hill in the middle section was in the forest and yes, it was as tough as it looks!

Tough on weary legs that have already run 15 miles!
Tough on weary legs that have already run 15 miles!

Once at the top we got our speed back up and enjoyed an undulating run through the top of the forest and through the eerie mist that was lingering around the trees. With the light dimming it looked pretty spectacular, but of course the light dimming could only mean one thing. The rain was on its way. Just as we came to the end of the forest trail we took the educated decision to get our jackets on, really just in time for the heavy, heavy rain to begin. This picture was taken just at the end of the forest and I think just before the photographer had to give up to protect his camera from drowning!

Favourite picture of me running to date. Cold, wet, tired and sore... but ready to take on the next section!
Favourite picture of me running to date. Cold, wet, tired and sore… but ready to take on the next section!

We came back out the forest and decided to stop properly at the check point to refill our bottles, get fluids in and try to eat something substantial. The rain had really come on hard and we were already starting to feel the cold, which really wasn’t great with so many miles still to cover. After a few minutes we were kindly prompted to get moving, so with crisps in hand and jackets zipped right up, we were off on the return section of our adventure.

Mile splits to check point 3:

12 8:59.0
13 9:16.2
14 9:34.9
15 14:03.0
16 10:43.2
17 13:44.1
18 10:46.9
19 9:28.6

The return leg down the Glen was when the rain really came on heavy. Luckily once we were over the viaduct we were protected slightly from the wind by trees, but nothing could stop the driving rain. My gloves were soaked through and my jacket was sticking to my skin. My buff was stuck to my head and my thighs and bum were numb with the cold. My trainers squelched and my eyes stung with the rain, but still we battled on along the track, agreeing we would walk the hills and save something for the last loop around Balquhidder, remembering how tough and hilly it had been a few weeks ago when it had been dry. If I hadn’t been so cold and wet, I would have loved this part of the race as here I was, 22 miles in and still running strong after all those hills. Something I couldn’t have even imagined doing not even a year ago! We knew the next and final check point wasn’t far ahead and the thought of a couple of jaffa cakes and some powerade pushed me on down the soggy, waterlogged path.

Mile splits to check point 4:

20 14:56.9
21 10:12.0
22 9:55.6
23 10:57.0
24 11:21.3
25 11:36.8
26 13:08.7

Once again the check points were manned by lovely, upbeat people who were standing in the pouring rain getting soaked, just to help us out and cheer us on. I found my bag and hoovered up a couple of jaffa cakes and the remains of a bag of hula hoops, washed down with half a bottle of undiluted powerade (which is what I had been running with in my camelbak – I still to this day have to find an electrolyte drink that doesn’t make me feel sick after 10 or so miles!) and then with the words “it’s only 5 and a half miles to go!” ringing in my ears, we were off on the final leg. This is where I really struggled and I was very, very glad I had my team mate Kirsty with me. I got so cold my top lip was that numb I felt like I’d been at the dentist! My legs wanted me to stop, my hands were stinging with cold as my Raynaud’s kicked in and I could have cried had my face not been so numb, but Kirsty kept me upbeat, reminding me we could see the finish in the distance and that we’d run it before so knew what to expect. We powered through puddles as there was no other way round and also we physically couldn’t get any wetter, and got our speed back up a little as the road evened out for a short while. The last mile or so is again nearly all up hill, so we walked while trying to keep warm and our spirits up, saving our legs for the last half a mile or so and of course the shoogly bridge. When we came back into the village and saw the sign pointing to the bridge we suddenly gained speed from an unknown place and galloped across the bridge to the finish line together. Totally soaked, physically shaking so hard from the cold and partially numb, it took me a good while to realise we’d finished! I had just run an Ultra marathon!

Goody bag in hand I was carefully pushed in the direction of a gazebo where they were making cups of tea and coffee. I have never drank black tea in my life, but it was the tastiest most delicious drink I have ever had and was that appreciated I just couldn’t stop grinning at the poor confused lady who had made it for me, as I just held it and sheltered from the rain.

Mile splits to finish:
27 11:20.2
28 10:36.0
29 11:02.3
30 13:54.5
31 13:13.2
32 2:19.8
Summary 5:41:51.7

It had taken me slightly longer than I had originally planned but taking the weather into consideration, I physically could not have done any more or gone any faster. I think a lot of people struggled due to the weather and the last few miles on tarmac, and it’s not an easy wee course! After I had inhaled up my tea I made my way back to Kirsty’s car to find my dry clothes and sit down and try and stop shivering. Craig called and said he was just coming over the road and I just couldn’t wait to see him for a big hug. He arrived with a flask of coffee in hand – my saviour, and we staggered over to the cafe to try and get some warm soup inside me. My stomach didn’t quite know what it wanted, but anything warm was being appreciated as I sat holding my bowl of soup for a good while before starting to eat it!
In the goody bag was a spectacular medal and a bottle of beer which has some of last years Glen Ogle finishers on the label. What a great idea! I don’t drink beer, but I’ll just have it as a keep sake.

A huge thanks goes to all to all involved in the running and organising of the Glen Ogle 33m Ultra Marathon. I’ll definitely be back next year. With a new jacket.

And now what’s next for me? Marathon – tick, 33m Ultra Marathon – tick. I know I have more to give and can go further and be stronger. Next year is a whole new challenge.

The very end. Soaked through to the bone, but still found a smile....
The very end. Soaked through to the bone, but still found a smile….
Brew dog beer in an awesome bottle.
Brew dog beer in an awesome bottle.