This September and October, I’ll be running two tough races, three weeks apart: the inaugural Ring of Steall Skyrace and the Plusnet Yorkshire Marathon. Every week, I’ll be reflecting on my training – what worked, what didn’t, changes made, fueling, diet, sleep, etc.
What I learned this week:
- One of the reasons the Ring of Steall has a huge elevation gain (8200 feet or 2500 m) in so little distance (16 miles or 25km) is that it starts, and finishes, at sea level. There is a sea loch at Kinlochleven, the site of the race start/finish. This means, that rather than the usual inland ascent of say 2000 feet (which is still a lot but doable), we’re climbing from the very bottom to the very top of a munro, immediately. That’s over 3000 feet. Good thing I’m still in the early phases of training.
- Take more clothes on long trail runs because you never know what Mother Nature will throw at you!
- My fitness is much better than it was a few months ago. This training is paying off big time.
- Never drink alcohol, even a small amount, the day of a long trail run. You’ll find out why!
Over a month ago, I ran the Glacier Energy 15 mile trail race around Balmoral Estate. I wish I could write that the race was amazing and that I got a new personal course record. I wish I could tell you that racing in my Inov-8’s went smoothly and will set me up well for Ring of Steall training. Finally, I wish I could write a timelier, proper race recap, but instead lots of living and weekly Primal Eye deadlines made that difficult. So here I am, a month on, having done a lot of thinking and learning along the way.
Race goodies + my cat photobomb
In short, the Balmoral Trail Race didn’t go nearly as well as it did last year. I had hoped to best my 2:28:47 result from last year, knocking minutes off my time as I’ve (slightly arrogantly) grown accustom to, but that just didn’t happen. My time was instead 2:30:57, and rather than running the entire race and all of its hills, like I did last year, I stopped to walk a few times, especially during the last few hills. My feet hurt (real bad!) and my calves were so tight, and I finished the race with a huge blister on sole of my foot, below my big toe. I confess, I whimpered as well.
As a teacher I can’t help use this comparison to describe me at the moment. I am here, although I haven’t been here on this blog for a bit. Life has gotten in the way: many deadlines for the magazine that have now passed, lots of time with friends and family, work is easing off and we’re nearing our next holiday; now I finally feel I have the energy, motivation and space in my head to compose a blog post.
A lot has happened since I last touched down here.
Work has gotten so much better. I don’t feel I’m missing out anymore and I feel far more settled. I really enjoy my job and working with primary children again, but part of me will always love working with teenagers.
I ran a few races this year but didn’t do any recaps. Truth be told, I find recaps a chore to write, and feel there’s only a certain window of time afterwards where it’s acceptable to write about a race. Weeks and months later aren’t acceptable to me. In January, my running club had four teams entered in the Devil’s Burden relay race, a 4-leg off-road race of trail running, fell running and navigation. Some legs required two people to run them because there was much navigation required. My leg was all fell running: up a steep, big hill without a designated trail, and back down the other side. It was 5 km and a 900+ foot climb. You get the idea.
I ran up that… and by ‘ran’ I mean walked. I walked up that. Quickly.