Friday, 26 April 2013

Anglo Celtic Plate (50K)

After the D33 i planned on waiting until the Fling to run another 'ultra' event, but on the day of the ACP entry closing, I entered.
Two things worried me:
1. It involved running in small circles ALL day
2. It was ALL on tarmac

On the plus side, getting lost would be virtually impossible.

I didn't fancy the 100K so took the 50K (31 Miles) 'lightweight' option and in hindsight that was 100% the correct choice!
My event didn't start until 10am but I wanted to get there to see the 100K get underway at 7am and to do a recce of the route. It was bitterly cold and the temperature was hovering around an optimistic -3 when I arrived. It was a bit spooky at North Inch Park, with the ground being covered in a crisp white frost and a layer of mist hung above the grass.
As I got out my car I saw that the 100K runners had started just seconds before. I walked over to the race Village and said a few hello's and decided the only way to keep warm was to head round the route and offer up some encouragement and abuse to the 100K runners as they passed by. With a lap being only around 1.5 miles I began to wonder when people would begin to get fed up saying 'hello', 'your doing well' and all the other usual words of encouragement. Saying 'looking good' every 1.5 miles seemed a bit redundant at this early stage. With the exception of a couple of miserable looking characters, most looked happy, albeit bloody freezing!

So fast forward a few hours and many many laps later.........
I had walked/jogged the route a good few times now, still freezing, and by now was keen to get underway myself. Sue Walker had very kindly let me put my race box at their tent so I knew exactly where to get my supplies during the race. So I got changed and then hung about the start area. I watched as the 100K folk came and went, setting off a beep each time they crossed the matting. This then triggered a 'Oh Shit' moment. It suddenly dawned on me, with 10 minutes to go' that despite having been so organised with my kit and my race supply box, that I had forgotten to attach the timing chips to my shoes. I belted back to my car and there they were, sitting on the dashboard. Numpty.
So, take I was ready to go.
We assembled and were quickly underway. My pre-race target had been around 5 Hours, nothing fancy, just plod round and get some miles in my legs. I knew I would be lapped, as it turned out I was lapped several times, and hoped that I would lap those who were near death in the latter stages. I soon lost track of how many laps I had done as we were not allowed to carry a phone or gps device, but I knew I had lots to go. The 100K guys were streaming past with increasing regularity, including the 'Big Guns' of Donnie, Antonia, Paul, Andrew and Andy. I chatted to a few briefly before they streaked away. It was never too long before I saw them again. And then again and again.........
In the early stages I passed Ray a few times but over the last hour I didn't see him so I knew I had slowed significantly!! The Tarmac was slowly destroying my calf muscles and my soul! 'God, when will this end?' I remember asking on more than one occasion.
My once cheery 'Hellos' had been replaced by mutterings and then hand signals. Why did I think running an Ultra on Tarmac would be fun?
I think I had run 8 laps before I had my first 'pit stop' for a drink, after that I was pausing every 2 or 3 laps. My leg muscles can't, as it now appears, cope over this distance on Tarmac, trails I can manage but the constant pounding on this hard packed shit really was leading to me making up all sorts of new swear words today. I had regular walk breaks, but I'm pretty sure I was soon being refered to as 'Oh there goes that guy whos walking the race' or 'when are you going to start running?' and my favourite of the day 'how many times is that ive lapped you now?'
By around lap 16 or 17 my legs were packing in and protesting with every subsequent lap. I had walked and talked with various runners, including Andy Johns and John MacLean and the ever smiling Antonia, but nothing could take my mind off the red hot pokers being stabbed into my legs. Even being shouted at by Sharon Law for talking to John like a 'pair of old fish wives' couldn't lift my spirits. Sue had fed me some cake and it gave me a wee burst of energy. A wee burst that soon wore off, but then some more cake and another wee burst. I felt a bit better, but not much! On one lap as I approached the mats the crowd were going mental, cheering and screaming. I thought 'Oh thats nice, thank you'. I quickly realised that it was Donnie Campbell coming in fast from behind me to finish that they were going crazy for!!!
I could see and hear the proper runners finishing one by one as I trudged around. I stumbled over the mats once again and Adrian told me 'One to go Colin'. My reply is unprintable and I apologise to those who had children present at the finishing area. My 5 hour target was well gone, but decided to push on my last lap in case anyone pointed a camera my way. On the previous couple of laps I had been passed or been passed by Neil McRitchie. I knew on the last lap that we were both on our last one. So my new target was to beat him! Over the last mile and a half we exchanged places a few times but as the route turned away from the river something in my brain told my legs to stop messing around and move my arse. I pulled away from him and kept well away until I finished. It was brutal, my legs were wrecked.
It was, despite that pain and suffering, an epic day. The encouragement from those I knew was matched by complete strangers handing out marshmallows and jelly babies. Thank you all. The event was very well organised and well done to all those at Run and Become. Adrian, I take my hat off to you for an amazing day. It was great to chat to some quality loons during the day and it helped for a wee bit to take my mind off the ribbon of tarmac that lay ahead. I wasn't expecting that finishers plate and made for a pleasant change to the customary medal, so that was fantastic, as was the easter egg! Well done to all who ran, it was a tough day out there. Thanks again to Sue for feeding me with cake and to George and Karen who spent the day cleaning up all the crap other runners saw the need to throw by the wayside and for cheering us runners on as we plodded on. Well done Team Scotland!!
At the start of 2013 I had boldly stated that I wanted to run and finish 12 Ultras. I soon began to see this as being overly ambitious and slightly mental. So I've 'slimmed' this down to a more realistic target of just 9!
So 2 down (D33 and ACP), 7 to go.
Tomorrow is the 3rd of this years, the Hoka Highland Fling 53 mile Trail Race. This will be my 5th Fling and hopefully my 4th finish. I'm aiming for Sub 12 hours this year and ideally would like to achieve 11.45.00
My previous two ultras this year haven't exactly gone to plan, but I need to remember that its all about the bigger picture, The West Highland Way Race in June. See you all in Milngavie in the morning. Although I'm sure I'll see some of you tonight at pre-registration. Bring It!!

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

D33 Ultra

For the 4th consecutive year this was the 'opening' race of another 'Ultra' year. It made me wonder at what point do I consider myself as an Ultra Runner and cast off the label of Fun Runner. I run ultras for 'fun' so I guess I should compromise and tag myself a 'Fun Ultra Runner'. today I was one of just 12 D33 'ever presents' who started/finished in a field of around 260 (ish). If memory serves me right, the previous 3 years were run in relative warmth and sunshine. It was a bit different this year. Rain, wind, cold and mud was the order of the day. Since the turn of the year I hadn't set the heather on fire in terms of long training runs, up until the D33 my longest run had been in January with the 30 mile WHWR Training Run. Before and since that I had done a couple of around and just over 20 miles, but most have been in the high teens on my local trails. Although the cumulative mileage wasn't spectacular I was reasonably happy with how most gone. I won't bore you with race prep. The only issue I had was having to work until 8.30pm the night before, getting up in the early hours after only 3 hours sleep and then driving 3 and a bit hours to Aberdeen on Saturday morning. That's also including my 'detour' on the Aviemore bound A9 after taking the wrong road out of Perth. I tried and failed to rejuvinate myself with 2 MacDonalds coffee's outside Forfar and only really succeeded in filling my bladder to bursting point, resulting in an emergency stop to find a road side tree. Shortly after that I was passed by the Giblin bus, no doubt with Josephine and Dennis singing 'the wheels on the bus go round and round' to pacify Paul in the back. A quick flash from their hazzards and they were gone. Wonder how many speed cameras caught them as they were close to warp speed as the drove on. Strangely I arrived before them, weird.
Anyway......It was just going 7.30am when I arrived at a newly redeveloped Dutie Park. It was Cold and Cloudy. But the cheery welcome from George, Karen, John and co. made up for that. After getting my race number I wandered back up the hill to the Winter Gardens to use the toilet before the bog roll would inevitably run out. I apologise to the poor sod who used it after me. I began meeting my fellow loons, some who I hadn't seen for several months. To summarise, there had been illnesses, injuries, divorces and births. So as time passed I wandered back to my car to get organised and changed to run. I decided to ditch my long sleaved base layer and stick with t-shirt with arm warmers and a gilet, packing a windbreaking shell in my pack. I wore gloves right up until the finishing straight and only took them off to save looking like a right wuss. You'll notice the lack of photos. I carried my camera but didn't take any during the run as it was too cold to keep stopping to fanny around with it!
George did his race brief and after a few hello's we were off. I started at the back and gradually over the next few miles worked my way forward. My 'plan' had been to target a 5hr 30min finish. Things were going great and the first few miles were around 9 and a half min mile pace. However, soon I caught up with a group including Victoria Shanks, Iain Shanks, Dave Morrow and Ian Minty. I chatted with Dave for a bit and the Ian. The miles passed by and without realising it Ian and myself pulled away and were doing miles at sub 9 min pace, including as fast as 8.15 pace. I knew this was too fast with such a long distance to cover, but my brain was over ruled by my legs which were feeling good. So I kept the pace consistant more or less to the halfway point. I didn't stop at CP1, just paused to scream out my race number at John who had a throng of other runners all doing the same. About 1.5 miles from the halfway CP the leaders began passing on their return leg. I tried to say hello to as many as I could, if I missed you sorry!! I had 'let' Ian stretch out near to Crathie and he passed me on his return leg on the muddy rutty 200 metre section approaching the CP at halfway. I had a quick drink and a mouthful of Laurie's juicy flapjack.  I walked and ate out of the CP. When I reached Crathie again I felt the waves of fatigue suddenly hit me. For the next few miles I could hardly keep my eyes open and a number of runners flew past. Even the rain and cold wind couldn't snap me out of it. Plus because I wan't moving that quick the cold was making my leg muscles seize up. But I bashed on. I knew I wasn't on for a PB and hopefully I could avoid a PW. I walked a hill with Ada on the approach to the next CP, where I had water Irn Bru and cake.. I seemed to wake up a bit here and although not pretty I seemed to move better. I adopted a run/walk approach for the rest of the day. I got to the road crossing with 6 miles to go and got a warm hug from Auntie Sandra. Got a sweetie and was just about to grab more when I was 'man handled' away and pushed on my way!! The last 6 miles is the worst on this route as it's so straight with the end seeming ly never to come. Surprisingly I passed a couple of runners (probably not even in the race!!) on this last bit. I kept looking at my watch and got a fright when it suddenly appeared to be approaching 6 hours. My first reaction was 'Shit' and then i slowed to a walk. 'Bugger', I really didn'y want to be over 6 hours. So I started to run again, passed another couple and then got to the the two bridges and I knew it was just up ahead. Looked at my watch again, 'Oh crap', it was fast approaching 6 hours. 'Keep going you muppet'. Every few seconds I looked at my time. I was cold and knackered but pushed as I got back to Duthie. Saw the wee crowd, heard the cheer and threw all I had left into beating 6 hours. Saw Uncle George and crossed the line in 5.59.13
Found it tough today and was 25 minutes slower than last year. But a finish IS a finish. Another great unique medal by Annette and beer and cake at the finish. No sooner was I sooking on my beer then came the cry 'hide the booze, it's the Polis coming'. After stuffing my gob hole full of as much cake as it could hold I headed back to my car to change. Ladt year I stayed in Stonehaven and went to the 'aftermath' party. I planned the same this year. Drove down in Stonehaven, didn't stop, drove out the otherside and down the road. I just wanted my own bed tonight. I stopped at MacDonalds for a large meal with extra onion rings, lard and chips. Then a McFlurry and a second coffee. I deserved it!!
Not my best D33 but I guess im just out of Race day pacing. Well done to all my fellow runners who started and to those who finished. Thanks to George for another Epic day, he always looks calm and in control. And top marks to his team of happy and enthusiastic marshalls and volunteers for standing out on a crappy weather wise day. Johnny Fling had his work cut for him today at the CP's recording runners as they arrived shouting out numbers. And I probably wouldn't have just sneaked under 6 hours if it wasn't for Sandra pulling me away from the box of sweets and giving me my marching orders. Too many others to thank but you were all stars. So hopefully, all going well, I'll be back for my 5th next year
(Photos below were taken by Victoria Shanks, Unfortunately my 2010 medal was eaten!)
So thats the first one out the way. Next is the Anglo Celtic Plate Self Transcendance 50K............