Monday, 29 October 2012

Jedburgh ultra

What the hell was i doing on the start line of an off road ultra, well it was for chairty The Margaret Kerr Fund. It seemed like fate that the race was giving some of the entry fee to the charity and the money would then go to build a purpose built  pallitive care unit for peeple with cancer. While my dad was in hospital he often talked about this and said how it was such a good idea. I felt it was a fitting tribute to my dad to do this race and I had raised 600 pounds in sponsership.

I knew the course would be hard as we had to go up the Eildons not just two but all bloody three of them. I am not known for my down hill running!! You would never guess i was a junior international scottish hill runner, how things change.
The race started alright on my favourite surface road then onto a tree leave covered path's. This was soon to change when we hit the mud. I was slipping and sliding At one point i was doing the splits and am not normslly very flexible. Runners all around me where falling, the whole time i was thinking please don't let me fall. Having never really got over the cold from the marathon my paced was dictated by my breathing. If i ran too fast i couldn't breath so at least that way i didn't go off too fast.

One of my main concerns of the race was the route, and not getting lost. I have no sense of navigation and really shouldn't be let outside without an apporate adult. Thank godness I managed to find loads of them during the race. I often found mine in the trees looking for tape. It is not often you are so glad to meet people in the under growth of a forest. I have to give a special meantion to Phil who looked after me for a while and stopped me getting lost.
What can i say about the Eildons, they hurt and i really did think my lungs might come out of my body. The down hill off of the second Eildon was intersting and saw me swearing, praying and shouting for help. My decent was completly out of control and it made me feel as if I was going head first down this hill.

I can promise you this i will never be up those hills again. Poor David Knox got it tight when i got to the third hill, asking me if I was ok i just about killed myself i told him.
I felt i was running steady and eating loads. The mud was making it hungry work.  I was dreading the really muddy section the second time round again but this time round my legs wouldn't be so fresh.  Also this time the mud had got worse and i was doing the splits in all directions.I did walk abit towards the end it was easier than falling on my arse when the mud got too bad.

I was so glad to see the finish on a good day with firm ground this would be a great race. But for me I am not an off road runner, so i was always going to find it difficult but i had a good reason to do it so I tried to put the head down and run through it, I would recommend this race if you like off road. The views are amazing.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Chester Marathon

This tapering lark before a marathon really didn't work for me, it made me feel slow and  i just kept thinking i was coming down with the cold. Stevie said this was the tapering effect well it felt like the cold. The wrong thing to do in the lead up to the marathon is to keep running you should be easing back a little  but i kept running in the hope the legs would start to feel better. The legs by Saturday morning felt better but the lungs, i was struggling to breath. Hey who needs to breath when you can still run.

The trip down to Chester was fine in the fact i got on all the right trains and only got lost trying to find my b+b. Thank you to the drunk man outside the pub who pointed me in the right direction.
Pre marathon tea was in a pub, burger washed down with pint of the flying scotsman. I felt i should drink this as it could be a good sign for tomorrow.
I really didn't have a good sleep as I spent most of the night waking up, so i was glad when the alarm went off to get up for the marathon.

The actual race day i didn't feel great but i had felt worse during the week so at least that was a good sign. Once the gun went off all thoughts of the cold disappeared. The pace felt ok but according to the garmin i was running too fast. This was the first time i have ever raced with the garmin, but i did what i felt right and carried on.
The miles ticked by and i was feeling alright until around mile 22, not bad considering i was running at a pace that i don't normally run at. Head down and i felt like i was working but the pace was slipping but i didn't feel like i was losing too much time.
I started to cramp up in the last mile, and as i hit the race course my legs just went. It felt like i was in a cross country race, i was looking for the racing line and attempting to miss all the mud. As soon i attempted to sprint for the line the cramp kicked in even more and stopped any thoughts of a final sprint, and i sort of fell over the line. Then the first aiders kept wanting to put me in a wheelchair, they kept pushing the bloody thing behind me offering me it several times. I kept telling them it was just cramp and i was fine.

Looking back at the race I am pleased with the fact i ran a pb! But am angry at myself for not doing the correct training. If i want to go faster and run near that 3 hours then i need to apply myself to the correct training. The distance is not the problem but the speed that i want to run the marathon at is. The Marathon training started well but then i got into ultra mode and started running the miles at no real pace. What speed work I did do was not often enough to have an effect, so i have only myself to blame.
I know i can go faster as i feel that i tired like you would do in any race but my pace only dropped a little. So with some longer paced runs and more of the dreaded speed work that faster time will come. Roll on the London marathon in April.

Monday, 13 August 2012

The support crew's view

I could never have done the 100km without the help from Stevie. Here is his view of the race.

The support Crew view:
This is my view as Izzy’s coach and support crew. I knew how much the Celtic plate meant to her, it was her A goal of the year and I knew her training had been going well.
After previous disappointments and under performing I had persuaded Izzy that we needed to go back to basics and work on her speed, which give her credit she did, it was not always easy persuading an ULTRA RUNNER to do 8 x 1 mile reps instead of a 6 hr. run!!!! Once she was used to the intensity then she added in the endurance runs, and the back-to-back long runs, which were key and went along with the speed work:
So I knew we had went into our taper in the best shape we could be in, but getting an ultra runner to taper is like getting an alcoholic to drink in moderation.
The taper and the nerves leading into the race are best described in what shall now be referred to as THE BURGER INCIDENT. My side is, 2 days before I accidentally ate a burger that she had earmarked as hers, by doing this our relationship was over, and she was now flying down to the race. Dramatic? Over reaction? I will let you decide but I wont ever eat her food again!!!
We decided to drive down so that we were in control of our own travel arrangements and it allowed us to stay relaxed in that important day before.
Arriving at the hotel, Izzy started to get nervous as she met up with all the other team members. As a support crew the days leading up to the race has to be all about the athlete, I see it as my job to make sure she has everything she needs/wants and to keep her relaxed, to talk about the race when she wants to and to take her mind off it the rest of the time.
On race morning Izzy seemed up for it and ready to be released. We made some last minute adjustments to our race kit due to the expectedly hot weather. These were positive changes following an adverse experience in a 24 hr. ultra in Switzerland, when we had not expected the scorching heat and Izzy had suffered badly to the point I had to pull her from the race as she had suffered heat exhaustion. We both learned a lot from that and I did a lot of research, and then we often discussed how best to run in the heat. I have to congratulate Izzy in embracing my philosophy that running in the heat is something that can be managed rather than I am just not good in the heat attitude.
We dealt with the last minute nerves and then I can do no more and its up to her, she lined up and off she goes, its hard seeing her set off, I just want to run with her, to settle her down and get her into her pace, but I cant so I get ready for her first PIT STOP:
I watch Emilie Gelder come in looking good, she demands NUNN, grabs a bottle and heads on not even breaking stride. As a support I am always watching and learning, so if Emily is taking Nunn already after 2 miles it must be hot and she is preparing for it. Izzy came through and she was a bit fast but I knew she would settle, and over the next few laps she did as her and Gail ran together and grinded out the laps. In the past Izzy has struggled with taking food on board, and we had really worked on that so I was pleased as she got food on board early and she was taking small drinks. Due to the heat I gave her Nunn and Dioralite rather than water to prevent cramps late on. Approaching 10 laps her pace was good and even, but I could see runners starting to be effected by the heat. I needed to get her cold drinks so in-between laps I was running in and out of the center putting her bottles in the freezer. I had timed her laps so had timed how long this took, so I was ready on each lap. I was getting really worried about the effects the heat was having on the others so even though she does not like wearing a hat or sunglasses I ordered her to put on a hat I had brought and on each lap I poured water on this to keep her cool, I also made sure I periodically caked her in sun cream. The heat was just something we had to manage. Lap 16 she was still going well and I gave her a cup of tea, as she barked orders at me not to loose her best brown cup!!!
On Lap 21 I was ready for her and looking down the road expecting her to appear as she had every other lap, she had pulled away from Gail who had been going through a bad patch and she had been looking strong on her own. When she did appear she looked different her stride was wrong, unknown to me and despite our best efforts the extreme heat had taken it effect after she had left the last feed station, so she had already been struggling for 20 minuets when she arrived. She wobbled and just about collapsed, I grabbed her, shoved water over her, reapplied sun cream, and shoved her back out onto the course with some coke and her favored Mountain Dew. This was tough love as she called it later. That next lap was hell, I wanted to run after her to make sure she was all right! I cursed the officials who would only allow me a few precious meters to assist her. As her helper I understood this but as her partner I hated it and wanted to protect her and know she was ok. 22 long minuets later she came in, feeling a bit better, I had asked Adrain for his help so that 2 of us could ensure she was ok. More cold water, some fresh fruit and she left looking better, thankfully at that point she had caught up with her friend Sandra who was definitely the right person at the right time, and she helped Izzy through the next few laps selfishly sacrificing her own performance,
Now back on steady laps we counted them down in single figures, I felt proud she had got through her wobble, she had not let the heat effect her and she was heading to the finish and that highly converted Scottish title. Adrian handed her the Saltire and she crossed the line exhausted/emotional and completely exhilarated. Job done and A goal achieved.
As a runner I understand what we put our bodies through but an Ultra takes its own toll and Izzy had some highs and lows over the next few days which I know she will not want me to publish here. As her partner I love her through the lows as well as the highs.
We had planned not to run at all for a week buy only 3 days later she confessed to me she had went for a walk, in her running kit and might have ran a little!!!! Then that night she comes to support me in a club mile relay, not taking her running kit she just happened to be wearing her running shoes (coincidence? I think not!!!!) and yes she did run a leg!!! Oh well you cant keep an ultra runner from running!!!!

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Anglo Celtic Plate 100km

November last year I sat in the hospital with my dad talking about gaining selection for Scotland in the 100km. Dad didn't want me to do another 100km but I knew he knew that i would. Selected or not selected I was going and I was also going to win the Scottish championships for him.

Thankfully I got selected and the nerves set in on the week leading up to the race. The race is all I thought about and when I did I felt sick with nerves. We had decided to drive down to Wales on the saturday, I can remember sitting in the car not wanting to go. Thankfully Stevie didn't listen to me and drove me to Wales.

The team meeting, really all I can remember is Adrian telling us that one of us would be the Scottish 100km champion tomorrow night. I sat there feeling sick with a mixture of dread and hoping it would be me.

The race was to start at half seven, it was allready warm when we got to the course just before seven. The race started and  I went off probably too fast but it felt comfortable. So I stuck with the pace with Gail now by my side. As the race went on this is really how it stayed, I would get into and out of the feed station a little ahead but on the back straight Gail would catch me up. I had trained with Gail a few times before the race so I felt comfortable running with her. Normally I just like running by myself. I felt that I never altered the pace I just tried to keep it steady and tick of the miles.
I knew it was getting hotter, but I was taking on plenty of fluids and eating well. Quite early on Stevie had told me to put a hat on which I normslly dont like wearing.  As it got hotter I would remove my hat on each lap and replace it with a wet buff  around my neck to then come round and get my nice wet hat which Stevie had been cooling in a jug of water. I should add at this point I had seen my hair looking better but hey it wasn't a fashion show. Thank god cause I don't think the look I was sporting would catch on. The hat was great as it meant I couldn't see a bloody thing so I could switch off for a while. The only real way I could see was for me to lift my head right up. Maybe  should have as there was one point I was coming into the feed station and someone shouted at me to watch the cars. They where right enough as two cars coming straight for me, and with my history I felt it best I did get out off the way. I didn't rush I simply trotted to the side of the road and smiled. After that I did try to listen out for any further traffic but I was sort of busy with a race.
I had my cup of tea at half way but couldn't face the homemade flap jack which I had been enjoying during most of my training runs. Instead I was eating food that I  hadn't been eating during my long runs, fruit and jelly bean things. I never knew how good melon could taste.

As the race went on the one thing that worried me was the the fact that me and Gail where still together. It worried me that it could get to the last lap and it would be a fight for home or the dreaded sprint for the line. I just hoped that one of us would break and it wouldn't be me. Gail is a really good friend but I am sure she thought the same during the race. If I was going to lose to anyone then I hoped it would be Gail.

It took until after the 50km mark before I was on my own, I remember going through the feed station and then hitting the back straight of the course waiting for Gail to return to my side. She didn't but I just kept moving thinking she would be back. I never knew how far Gail was behind me during the race as Stevie would never tell me so I kept running scared. Always believing that Gail was right behind me.

I think the heat started to take it's toll as I remember feeling dizzy and faint after coming through the feed station. I was so glad to get round to tell Stevie I wasn't feeling right, I shouldn't have bothered as I was cooled down and sent on my way. This is the man who has said in previous ultras I don't give him enough information to how am feeling. No wonder if thats how he treats me!!

My only other rough patch was around 40miles, when it got to around 12 mid day. As this was always the time I would get my support to phone my dad. There would be a call to dad's house phone but this time there would be no words spoken or the phone would not be answered. I had asked Stevie to do this and it was  part of the race plan. I ran that lap lost in my own thoughts thinking of my dad and how much I missed him. I hoped he was looking down on me and not worrying too much.

As the race went on and Gail never appeared at my side I was very worried that that she was not far behind, Stevie wouldn't give me any information and I had another wee wobble as the tiredness set in. I told Stevie I couldn't go on I was tired and didn't think I could do it for dad. Thankfully Stevie was his normal understanding self and shoved water over me threw food in my mouth and shoved me back out onto the road.
The later stages of the race I caught up with Sandra who wasn't having a good day at the office. I had been trying to catch her and use her to pull me along. When I did catch her up she give me the kick up the arse that I needed and got me moving. Sandra really helped me in those last laps encouraging me to keep going and not allowing me to walk when that's all I  wanted to do.
The first time I ever meet Sandra was at Cardiff at this very race and that day she became Scottish champion. Sandra is a great runner who inspires me with her strength an determination A huge thank you Sandra for helping me, words can not express how much you helped me.
The last lap was such a relief to know that all the pain was going to end as going through the feed station I  told Stevie I wanted Adrian to give me the flag. It meant so much to be given the flag by Adrian as he knew how hard it had been for me with everything I  had went through losing dad. I set out on the last lap with Sandra asking her for the millionth time was Gail catching me, the answer was no but I didn't relax until I got to Adrian standing with the flag. I would love to say I sprinted down the finishing straight but I  enjoyed every god dame stride. I had came here to win the Scottish championships and I had done it for my dad. With the flag aloft I crossed the line and looked up to the sky , I knew he was watching.     

Thanks must go to my support crew Stevie, I could never have done it without you so thank you. Thanks for taking the time to listen to me when I came into the feed station and eating all the home baking.
Thank you Adrian  and team Scotland and the other support crews who helped too.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Connistion Marathon

This was to be my last long run before the 100km and a chance to get away for the weekend. A nice wee off road marathon. What i call off road and what the race organiser's call off round are two different things. My off road has nice wide paths that you can run on without fear of rocks or tree roots and no mud!

On the start line i hoped for a good run to feel strong throughout and finish like i had just been out for a wee run. Also i wanted to enjoy the race with no pressure on me and maybe the rain would stop. The start was fine two laps of the school playing field. Made so much more exciting with having to avoid the long jump pit on each lap. Then it was out onto the road taking in a nice step wee hill, that got the lungs working. Then the trouble started a small track along the forest so early on that other runners wanted past with not much room to allow them to pass.Thus forcing me to run at a pace i wasn't happy with and the tree roots coming at me quick and fast.
I really struggled with the down hills early on, too many runners rushing past me and making me nervous i was getting in there way. Am  more out of control than in control when running down hill and probably stopped dead a few times causing other runners to either pull on there brakes or jump to avoid me. It doesn't help when am scared that i would fall. I did get slightly better as the race went on.     
I ate well during the run, with Stevie feeding me throughout the race so i didn't need to stop at the feed stations. He was also there to push me across streams when i was taking my time getting across. Why was i wondered that my feet would get wet, as i think it had rained most of the run. Stevie was also there to make sure i behaved and didn't run too fast, no chance on a course like this. He was there to keep me company and the time flew past as i don't think i ever shut up. Well maybe on the step up hill's and the down hill's when i was too scared to chat. Maybe the odd swear word came out of my mouth. He was also there to make me laugh, which he did on many occasion's. Like the time he was having a go at me for taking my time on a step muddy descent and called me a big girls blouse. Oh how i laughed as i trotted past while he tried not to loose his shoes in the mud. He even managed to run into a sign post and smack his head off it. Not sure how he did it, to think he was meant to be looking after me!!

Early on i could feel something rubbing in my right shoe, by the end i had a nice big blister which was getting more uncomfortable to run on but i could still run. Thankfully it caused me not too much bother after the race and was able to walk and run on it.

I finished strong and felt good just like how i wanted too. With running with Stevie he stopped me upping the pace on the nice flat good surface at the end. Why hadn't the whole race been on this!
I did in some sort of twisted way enjoy the race, some great views and the company wasn't t too bad.  So thank you Stevie for making me laugh and feeding me the whole race. I so need to work on my off road maybe after the 100km i will hit the trails. Until then it is time for the dreaded taper!

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Anglo Celtic Plate

I thought last week would never end, but on friday i got the news i was waiting for. I had been selected to run for Scotland in the Anglo Celtic Plate.
I have never been so nervous waiting to find out, i cried when i found out as it was such a relief and the wait was over. I really thought that i wouldn't get selection and as more of the week went past i was sure i hadn't been selected.
I had spoke to my dad while he was in hospital and said i wanted to try and gain selection, my dad never really liked me doing 100km's and had said why did i want to be running such a silly distance. I just said i liked doing them and dad just looked at me and i knew that he would support me and nothing else had to be said. When i found out that i was selected he was the first person i wanted to tell and i actually forgot he wasn't here as i went to phone him. I know he would be looking down and be sharing my happeness.
Training is going well and i look forward to all the hard miles of running i have to do. Roll on July and the chance to wear a scotish vest again.

Sunday, 25 March 2012


The race i would be using for selection for the 100km in Wales, it went well but i didn't win which i felt i had too. I was well beaten but had a good run that showed that training was going well for the 100km. I haven't started the long runs yet or the back to back runs so i feel i showed mental strength in the latter stages of the race.
 My training has been going well since the back to back marathons in January. I have been working on my speed and the only long runs i have been doing is my regular 16 mile run. So the D33 would be a test but a good run out for me.

From the gun the leading lady went off but i was happy to get into my grove and run on my own which i really did do for most of the race. I was worried about the off road aspect of the race but i shouldn't have worried it really was good going for the whole of the race. Thank god as i don't really do off road or mud!
I got to the turn feeling comfortable and the support from the other runners on the way home was amazing. The other girls not far behind but the leading lady was off and looking strong. I don't think the wheels came off but it started hurting around 29 miles but i felt i put the head down and tried to keep pushing on.
The lack of miles showed but i kept moving and didn't slow down too much.

The one real worry for me on the lead up to the race was how i would feel during the race as often when out running you start to think. Even on my short runs i often think of my dad and have a wee cry, it did worry me that i would break down during the race. All those miles and the time to left to think. I did think of dad those last miles when it hurt but there was no crying just a sense he was there and pushing me on. Even though he thought i was mad doing these distances and it was not normal.

I finished 2nd lady so here is hoping it's good enough for selection and my friend Gail showed great strengh coming through for 3rd. What a great race and to top it off i got my medal from Andrew Murray once i crossed the finishing line.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Liverpool Double Marathon

How not to run a marathon pb or in my case how to run a pb. Decide two weeks before the race that you fancy doing it. Then travel down to Liverpool the morning of the race leaving nice and early. Oh i forgot don't bother doing any real training for the marathon. I have been running but mostly four mile runs with speed work. The very occasional long run up to two hours chucked in when i had the time.

So off we set to Liverpool with the idea of running a fast marathon on day one then just getting round on the second day. The week before the race, i thought it would be a good idea to go for a pb. I talked it over with my coach who didn't really say much expect he wanted me to go out there and run as fast as i could. I don't think he expected me to run as fast as i did with what little training i had done.

Stevie ( my coach ) was going to run the first lap then let me get on with it. After the first lap i was second passed about mile from the next lap. The pace felt not too bad but i find when running with someone who run there pace. So i was glad to get out onto the second lap own my own. Once on my own i soon found my grove and picked up the first lady, who i thought was looking really relaxed that  i wouldn't see her again.
The third and fourth lap i just kept running relaxed but felt strong ,i didn't want to look at the watch in case i didn't like what i saw.
The fourth lap was very emotional for me as most of the race i had thought of dad, it felt like he had taken every stride with me. He would be so proud not of the win as that never meant anything to him it was doing your best and enjoying it.
Well i got what i wanted a nice new pb and the feeling that i could run so much more faster at the marathon. Bring on the training.

Day two, a marathon again my legs hurt my stomach felt like a washing machine on full spin. The race started and so did the pain and didn't stop until the end. Nor did my swearing at Stevie who ate the whole twenty six miles. I kept hoping the legs would want to play and race the other girls but i couldn't i was too tired. The plan was never to save my self for the second marathon so i learnt i can run that distance tired. The lack of training showed on day two but at least i got some more miles under the belt.

All in all i think a good weekend 's work.