Monday, 26 March 2018

Aberfoyle Spring Week

After making light work of the Loch Katrine Marathon (see previous blog; wink, wink, say no more), we had a wind-down week in a wee cottage in Aberfoyle. It was 2012 since I previously put my feet up thereabouts, although I did ride the Tour De Trossachs there last October. The weather had, thankfully, improved and we didn't see a repeat of the bitter conditions witnessed on the previous Sunday.

Every day, I ran up through the gravel tree lined trails around the David Marshall Lodge, halfway up the Dukes Pass. Some days I went off-piste and got lost in the wooded kingdom. The runs were usually followed by a eggy based brunch. Not a big mileage week, but I was clocking around 1000ft of quality ascent every day and gulping in the stunning scenery together with bucket loads of fresh air.  Mrs Mac spent her time recovering from her 6 hour Katrine shuffle and read for much of the Week.

Spring, mild and wet weather arrived by the end of the week when the frogs were everywhere doing what they do at this time of  the year in the woodland ponds. Have they got no shame? On the bird front, they were pretty shy, but we caught sight of a Goldeneye in Loch Achray and a Goosander at the Lake of Menteith hotel where the venison burger proved too strong for me. Earlier, late on the Friday afternoon after the rain stopped, I came down like a sack of tatties on a slippy bend, but got up quickly in case someone was watching and having a wee laugh at my expense, a wee bitty schadenfreude up the Dukes Pass. Anybody had a wee bitty schadenfreude up the Dukes Pass...anyone...anyone...Bueller?

Saturday saw us pack up and clear off home via Glasgow. The sun was splitting the pavements (really), so we felt compelled to visit Victoria Park in Whiteinch where my granny used to live (not in the park) for the Park Run. Around 270 converged on the crocus laden grounds. The pond was busy with various swans and ducks.

I soon fell into step behind a high stepping female, an unattached Louise Dytch, after the first lap when the field began to thin out. We threaded our way around another 2 laps and I lagged a couple of seconds to her with 100 to go, but crossing the line in 18:48, I was pretty pleased to go sub 19 for ages. Checking the results, it looked like a big PB for her also. It was, I suppose, a perfect day for a Park run and the course is pretty flat.

We warmed down afterwards, meeting up with Speedy Joe for a salad and chips at the Hyndland Fox, a little bit of bohemia among the red brown sandstone tenements. Very nice. Very civilsed.

This week I'll be back in the gym, the first time for ages. I am enjoying the running and trying to ensure I manage myself to stay injury free. This, seemingly, involves trying no to over-do the interval stuff, being sensible with the long runs and rationing the races. That said, its the Elswick Relays in Newburn this Friday, so better not take my foot off the gas yet. I'll be in a new age category in June and was reminded by a running buddy that I should be aiming to make an impact.  Always happy to oblige! 

Sunday, 18 March 2018

Loch Katrine Running Festival

I entered the Loch Katrine marathon in January after finding out there were no more places for the half marathon. Mrs Mac also put her name down. Aunt Aggie would have, but there were no crayons to hand.
I have trained very reasonably for the event over the last 2 months, managing myself and trying to ensure there were no heroics that led to injury, with a capital R.

Having heard this weekend’s forecast, however, I was resigned to the event being cancelled.  We travelled up regardless, on Saturday morning after Mrs Mac’s nightshift. The dark destroyer was in tow after her storming 3:04 and first British woman at Barcelona. We then collected Speedy Joe in Glasgow. She’s claiming injury and has been taking it easy after a full-on XC season. Although neither were racing, I was in good company.  They are both doing London.
After setting up camp in Aberfoyle, we ate big on the Saturday night. We woke this morning to snow. Around an inch all told. Strangely, the Facebook page for the event still appeared to be showing no change; The Alloa half was cancelled together with a handful of other races. ‘Surely it couldn’t be still on’, we asked ourselves.  

We piled our gear into the car and set off avoiding the Dukes Pass and drove via Callender. The event HQ was up and running at 8:30am when we arrived having picked our way through the snowy lanes of Kilmahog. Everything was green for go, even though everything was actually white with snow. There was a good inch of fresh powdery snow on the road along the loch.
With a wind chill of around minus 8, there was, not for the first time, much discussion about the choice of footwear and how many layers to wear.  About 60 runners set off for the marathon including me and Missus mac. I had checked with the organisers beforehand that, in the event of me getting too cold and copping out, I could cut the event short and do the half, 13 miles, rather than the 26.  Fine, they said. No problem.
I had opted for the Salomons on snowy tarmac, but was fairly sure I definitely didn’t want to run 26 miles on tarmac in them. The soles of my Nike Lunars, however, were as flat as the UK economy and useless for snow running. 
Running for the first few miles with a huge tailwind blowing me west, I overheated badly. I was sitting around 5th or 6th just after mile 6, when I spied the turnaround marker for the half marathon and as soon as you could say ‘that’ll do nicely’ I had implemented a swift no-nonsense volte-face and was soon heading back into the wind and snow flurries. As I ran on my own along the single track that wound its way through the woods all I could think of was '....good weather for the judderman'. Long slender icicles on the rocks. snow flurries. Occasional ravens, cawing. desolate. Beware the judderman, my dear, when the moon is fat. ......I was woken out of my hypothermic stupor by the half marathon and 10k runners who had set off half an hour later than the marathon runners. A small stampede of folk coming at me from all angles. I got plenty of ‘well dones’. ‘What on earth do people think I’ve achieved’ I wondered; the only runner from the marathon group to bail out and retreat like Napoleon being chased by the Cossacks.
I arrived back at HQ in 1:34 which was perfectly fine and explained myself to the perplexed marshalls. They recorded the time and I got a hat, medal and tea-cake. The 2 young athletes had a good jog around the place and we enjoyed a lunch of hot soup at the pier cafĂ©. Mrs Mac returned some good while later and we had a good chat about this low key but very popular event in the Forth Inn after a wash and warm up.