Thursday, 9 August 2012

Clyde Stride Ultramarathon 2012

I ran this race last year and it had been part of my 'plan' to run 8 of the 9 SUMS races in 2011. This year it hadn't been on my list of races as it was only 4 weeks after the WHWR and only 2 before the 'Devil', so it was going to sacrificed this time round so that I could recover properly inbetween the two previosly mentioned events. I hate missing an event I have previously enjoyed but convinced myself that it was for the greater good. In the four weeks between the WHWR and the Stride I had run 4 times. I use the word run loosly. But I did feel reasonably ok. One of these runs had been from Glencoe Ski Centre to the top of the staircase and back and I was happy that I had recovered pretty well. With lots of chat on Facebook about the CS I wondered if I had made the right choice by missing it out but decided to stick by my initial decision to miss it. I had even said so during my last WHWR podcast with JK. So I thought that I would head down to the start and cheer on those doing it and try and follow the day as an unofficial race photographer and 'groupie'. I checked the route map and decided where I would try and get to along the route. I was all organised on Friday night with 2 cameras, spare batteries and my lunch made up and all packed. Then after a brief conversation with a few people on FB, including Jo, things took an unusual turn. I posted a half joking comment on the CS page asking if there would be any race day entries. I got a reply at 11.30pm from Lee (Race Director) saying if I wanted to run I could turn up in the morning. SHIT!!....what do I do now? It was like dangling a carrot in front of a hungry donkey!! Will I?, won't I?, will I?, wont't I?
I paced up and down for what felt like an age, not sure what to do.....I replied saying thanks and I'll see you in the morning.
I spent about a half an hour scrambling around the house packing a kit bag and scavenging around trying to make up 3 drop bags for the route. So my race preparartion wasn't exactly that for which I'm known for. No time for laying it out for a photo for FB this time!
I would only get around 6 hours sleep as I would leave the car at home and get the train into Glasgow and then the subway to the start. Maybe this is good way to go into an event, giving myself no time for the nervous energy to start sapping my energy levels. Just turn up and run. I wouldn't recommend it though! So after struggling with 3 drop bags, waist pack bag and kit bag I made it to Partick for 8.30am. I paid and got registered with Julie and felt a bit embaressed to just turn up on the day. Then Lee confirmed that I was indeed a chancer! My thanks to Lee, who had enough to deal with without 'additional' runners just turning up. I managed to meet and greet a few others, including some who had also run the WHWR just four weeks prior. After a quick race brief from Lee we walked to the underpass to start. We were off.
Even now I was still questioning if running today was the wisest thing to be doing. Bit late now. With the WHWR still in my legs I was just going to plod along near the back and get to New Lanark in one piece without any injuries. Like a few others I had talked to at the start who were planning on running the Devil, this would be used as a recovery run from the WHWR and as a longer training run in preparation for the Devil. We had nothing to prove today. With one thing or another there had been a few route changes over the first couple of miles, but nothing problematic. Last year I ran to CP1 in 1 hour 20 minutes, which was too fast, this year I covered this first section in 1 hour 30 and it still felt too fast! One of the issues I've been trying to sort this year is CP transitions. I have a habit of arriving at a CP and phaffing around which eats into my overall time. So when I got to CP1 I was only here long enough to refill my bottles, have a horrible tasting gel and a Flapjack and I was off again. I think it was just after CP1 that I met Karin and Brenda directing traffic at a pretty nasty hairpin bend. Well done girls for getting us all over safely without becoming a Garfield doll pressed against someone's windscreen.
It wouldn't be the same during a race if at some point I had a navigational error. And so it happened between CP1 and CP2. I was running just behind a line of 5 other runners along the riverside when we came to a junction. The path along the river looked too narrow and overgrown to be right so we took the other path which took us up a steep climb and away from the riverside. We all presumed that it would turn and rejoin the river path but it kept climbing and looked like we were heading into a housing estate.
After a few more minutes we came to a stop and collectively realised we had gone the wrong way. The guy at the front got the blame, the rest of us were just following him ! We retraced our steps and found another path taking us back down to the river, with Tim Downie appearing just as we rejoined the correct path. Soon after we crossed a very high bridge (don't know the name), I paused to take some photos and then Sandra and Andy appeared. I ran with them for a wee bit and discovered that they too had gone wrong earlier on the route. This explained why they had been behind me as they had started in front and I hadn't passed them on the route earlier. I ran with them for a mile or so and on the stretch alongside the dual carraigeway they stretched in front, although I managed to keep them in sight until CP2 at Strathclyde Park.
There was a death defying moment dashing across two lanes at the roundabout going into the Park and then we were greeted by a huge crowd here. Met JK and Katrina here and I saw Grant Jeans. I knew he was running and for a split second though that my 'speed' work had paid off!! (He had withdrawn at CP1). I had another quick stop and after some encouragement from John and Karen R (who was marshalling here) I was off again. I managed to keep Sandra in sight until the bottom of the Loch in Strathclyde Park, but I stopped for a wee walk and she was gone. My stomach was giving me a bit of jip, probably from not eating enough and it was getting very warm. So I power walked for a few minutes and then tried to maintain a slow jog over the next section. After my strong start I felt a bit jaded over the next few miles from Strathclyde Park. About halfway between CP2 and CP3 Andy caught up with me, having had a longer stop at CP2. My GPS phone app was playing up as when it said I had run marathon distance, it had taken me 3 hours 25 minutes!!, which I knew I was never capable of doing. So when Andy breezed past I asked him to confirm time and distance. Mine was miles out!, which was a bit demoralising. I think I'll have to save up and buy a basic Garmin as by the time I got to New Lanark my phone app had me down as having run 52 miles. Mind you, it felt like it. I had a quick chat with Mark as we ran into CP3 and it was good to meet another of those runners who you know the name but never met before. Chatted with Ian at CP3, which was another quick stop to refil my bottles. I knew Sandra couldn't be far ahead if Ian was still here. Not long after CP3 I caught sight of her and tried to close the gap before we left the riverside, but my legs were beginning to tell me to shove it!
So it was down to running for a few minutes, walking a few minutes and then running again. The last few miles are pretty horrible, with some short but very steep climbs and passes through a couple of small villages. With my GPS not playing I had no idea how far I had run at this point or how far I had left. For about an hour no one passed me, I passed only one other runner, but in honesty I just wanted to finish this one. On one of the tough wee climbs I caught a glimpse of the buildings in New Lanark. As you run down the hill towards the finish I suddenly remembered its not the finish. You have to climb again, taking you high above new Lanark for a final mile long loop, up and behind the finish. I looked down on the finish area and could see others finishing. After dodging several tourists on the boardwalk who on any other day I would have probably have pushed into the river for not having the manners to step to the side I came to the stone arch and down the stairs to cross the line. Done.
8 hours 13 minutes 35 seconds, which was 13 minutes 30 seconds faster than last year, so very pleased with another PB. I think this was more down to my brief CP stops rather than running any faster. I'm glad I decided to run today and seemed to have had no ill effects from doing so.  I hung about to watch some others finish and had a beer as I waited. I had one more challenge today, to walk up that bloody hill to get to the train station in Lanark. Just as I got to the top, Jonathan and his supporters stopped and gave me a lift into the town centre. My thanks to them, as I was cream crackered. I fell asleep a few times on the near empty train on the way back to Glasgow.
My thanks to the ever fantastic Lee MacLean for a brilliant day. Thank you and well done to all her team of marshalls and volunteers, including Julie, Karin, Karen, Brenda and Norry. Top job folks. I didn't really take in who else was at CP's helping, but thanks to all of you for encouragement and getting all the runners in and out fuss free. Well done to all who ran, especially all those who ran the WHWR a few weeks previously and still managed to get to New Lanark in one piece. On to the next one.........Bring it!
(Don't know who took these two photos above, let me know if anyone knows so I can give credit)

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