Four Munros and a Marathon: week 3

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!

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Tips for Post-Race Recovery

This past week on my Instagram account, I posted a series of running tips describing strategies I use to help with race recovery. Last week, I ran the Glen Clova Half Marathon, and my recovery started immediately after the race. If you’re looking for ways to help promote recovery, stave off illness and prevent injury, but you missed my Instagram series (or you’re not even on Instagram) don’t worry: here they are.

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Glen Clova Half Marathon Recap

This race was a tale of two halves, with me relying on information from others to guide my expectations of the route. Leading up to the race, I had been told two facts about it: #1 it’s easier than the Stonehaven Half; you’ll have no problem with Clova; and #2 this race is so hard!!!! I wasn’t sure what to believe, but neither influenced my ultimate decision to just run this race. There wasn’t going to be any pursuit of a new 13.1 personal best – I think two in one year is enough – but I had hoped that I would still, based on these ‘facts,’ be able to run a sub-2 hour race in the least.

In the days before the race, I had been experiencing a dry cough in the morning, accompanied with mouthfuls of phlegm. While I had left my previous job because of how the stress was getting my entire wellbeing down, it appears my immune system still wanted to do me over. That, coupled with working with little germ ball children again, and the fact that I’ve still been more so 80/20 than 95/5 with my diet, led to a chest thing less than a month after my throat thing. Side note: I really need to get my act in gear because I don’t like all this being ill business!

Upon hearing me still coughing the night before the race, Pat queried my intentions for the next day. I clarified that I wasn’t going out to race the race, but rather just run around the route and hope for a time under two hours. I hadn’t even bought my usual Honey Stinger Energy Chews, and instead opted for the very paleo but sweet Nakd bars made of nuts and dates.

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{WIAW} 70.3 weekend

It’s What I Ate Wednesday, where I show you all the paleo-primal food I eat in a day. This past weekend was Pat’s big triathlon, and we were on the road, so today’s post will show you how we do primal, on the road and for races. No link ups, no ‘blog parties,’ just real food. And racing.

Pat was competing in his first 70.3 triathlon, a half ironman distance, although not put on by Ironman. It was the Aberfeldy Middle Distance triathlon, which was also the Scottish National Middle Distance Championships.

Race weekend actually began Saturday, the day before the race, at home. Pat wanted his pre-race meals to be the same as what he would eat at home, so we took our own food for Saturday night’s dinner, and breakfast and lunch Sunday.This involved some cooking of chicken breast, boiling of organic white potatoes from our garden, making of multiple salads, and packing all sorts of primal essentials, like supplements, our espresso maker, coconut oil and my xylitol, (because I like sweet coffee). All non-perishables were packed in a cooler with ice packs. We then hit the road to Aberfeldy, in the middle of Scotland.

When we arrived, Pat picked up his race pack, and we attended the mandatory pre-race briefing. I was effectively Pat’s ‘sherpa’ wife for the weekend, and went to the race briefing as an extra set of ears, just in case. Then, it was off to our B & B for pre-packed dinners and an early bed. I went for an 8 mile run around the B & B, which coincidentally was also part of the half marathon route the following morning. When I got back, I ate a salad of chicken breast (seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic granules and paprika), with organic Swiss Chard from our garden, cucumber, tomato, snap peas, pepper and avocado; tossed in Olive Oil and Balsamic vinegar.

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I also enjoyed a delicious, but melted, fat bomb. And a cup of peppermint tea. Both not pictured.

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Balmoral Race 2 of 2: Glacier Energy 15 Mile Trail Race recap

2014 was all about pushing my limits, bettering my times, and decreasing the space between ‘I can’ and ‘I can’t.’ I entered the 2015 Glacier Energy 15 mile trail race – the BIG race of the Balmoral race weekend – as way of continuing to extend my boundaries and getting familiar with the unknown. I had also entered to Stena Drilling Tartan 10km, the day before this trail race, as another way to push my limits and challenge myself both physically and mentally. My Balmoral Challenge had been set, I had already succeeded in one race that weekend, what would happen in race #2?

All of my mental preparation and focus had gone into the 10km race; so much so that Pat and I referred to the 10km at my race, and the 15 mile trail race as his race. My race plan leading up to last Sunday was to treat this as a long run, but to also experiment somewhat with pacing over a distance longer than 10 miles. I was also hoping to run the entire race, but I wasn’t sure how I would fare considering our three double-digit long runs we did to train for this race consisted of many large, steep hills, all of which I walked up. Going by Rachel’s recap of this race from 2013, I knew to expect three big hills; if I could run all of them, that would be amazing, but I would have to see what the race brought and how I felt.

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Balmoral Race 1 of 2: Stena Drilling Tartan 10km recap

This past weekend was a big weekend for running, both in Scotland and the UK. There was the Virgin Money London Marathon, the Hoka Highland Fling (a 53 mile ultra marathon along the West Highland Way here in Scotland), and of course, the big race weekend at Balmoral Castle. My race weekend.

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As you may or may not know, I set myself a wee challenge this year. Not only would I run the Stena Drilling Tartan 10km (aka Balmoral 10km), but I also really wanted to up my game and enter the Glacier Energy 15 mile trail race. So, instead of entering one this year, one next year, I decided to enter both. I decided I would take on a big race challenge. My first.

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Spring Forward

20150423_181545 (2)This weekend is my big Balmoral race weekend. Saturday, I will run the 10km race – a race I’ve run the past two years to dismal results. Sunday, I will run the 15 mile trail race; this will be the longest distance I’ll run to date. I set myself this challenge because I wanted to test  my current fitness level, but also because I didn’t want to wait another year to run one of the races. Why not just do both?

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The Best (and Worst) of my Racing History

Welcome to Link Up Week at Eat Primal, Run Hard: a week of posts linking up to other blogs to spread the blog word! Today’s link up is with Jessie at The Right FitsMy Best (or Worse) of my racing history.

Best Finisher’s Shirt

Despite not enjoying the Edinburgh Marathon Festival Half, I really like the t-shirt. There’s something about the silhouette of the Mound and Edinburgh Castle on the rear bottom right of the t-shirt that I love.


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St Andrews University Triathlon Team Autumn Duathlon recap

I entered this race as part of my 2014 Try New Things challenge. Having bought my road bike in August for the Grantown Try Tri, I was keen to race Big White (my bike’s name) more than once this year. The St Andrews University Sprint Duathlon was the perfect event to do this. And yes, THE St Andrews, the birthplace of golf, and THE St Andrews University, where Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge (aka Kate Middleton) met.

Pat had helped me prepare for the race the night before by pumping up the tires on my bike only to damage the inner tube of my front wheel. He then had to replace the tube with a new one, and put our bike rack on my car. I like that I have my own bike mechanic at home. Did I mention it was incredibly windy this past Saturday and Sunday? And has been all last week? It was a pleasure listening to the wind smack our house as I was getting ready for the race Sunday morning.

My pre-race breakfast was a paleo pancake with tahini instead of peanut butter, topped with a tiny bit of honey; half of a two-egg omelette made with broccoli, mushrooms, and leftover potatoes; my usual bulletproof espresso; and some coconut cream with fresh blueberries, kiwi and a crumbled Nutter Bomb.

Some of my Laurencekirk running friends entered the race as well, and we all met bright and early at 7:30 am in town to drive together down the dual carriageway, through Dundee, over the Tay Road Bridge and into Fife to St Andrews. Unfortunately, Pat was a bit rough in his repair job and ended puncturing the new tube too! I only discovered this when in Laurencekirk, and luckily, my friends had a few tubes to spare.

We arrived in St Andrews and immediately headed up to register, then back to our cars to get our gear into the transition area. The field of competitors was about 100 people, and consisted mainly of students from the university and secondary school clubs in the surrounding area, as well as adult triathlon club members. It seemed there were very few non-club people, like myself and my friends, taking part. In transition, I set up my cycling shoes, jacket (to protect from the wind) with a pack of Honey Stinger Pink Lemonade Energy chews and a pack of Honey Stinger Lemon Waffle inside, my helmet, gloves and buff to protect my ears from the wind. My friends also helped replace my inner tube.


photo courtesy of my friend Wendy

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{Race recap} Grantown Try Tri

Attempting a triathlon was actually a goal I toyed with at the start of 2013. While I never worked toward that goal last year – instead opting to train for and run my first half marathon – it has been a sport that has captured my attention for years. As a child, I would watch the Escape From Alcatraz triathlon and the Ironman World Championships (held in Kona), on TV and dream that I too could be one of those athletes. With Pat taking up triathlon, it’s all gotten much closer to home. I see what his training is like on a daily basis, and have been a spectator for every one of his races. I love the atmosphere at a triathlon and the anticipation of the competitors coming into transition before heading out again.

I used to think I’ll just stick with running, but then I got bored with it, and needed a new challenge; entering my own triathlon was just a natural step. I thought I’d take it easy by entering a Try a tri, where the sole purpose of such an event is to give triathlon newbies a taste of the sport without having to invest large amounts of time to train for longer distance races, or to simply wrap their head around participating in a race where there are three disciplines, plus two transitions, to worry think about.

While I never worry about races and what to do – I don’t actually think I worry about much at all – it was a difficult task to mentally prepare for three disciplines. My mind would flutter between swim bike run, plus transitions, and everything would get muddled into one. When I told Pat how I felt as I was setting up my transition area, he said he goes through the same thing.

The day before the race was a travel day: we took the high road from our home off the east coast of Scotland, through the rugged and beautiful hills and mountains of Royal Deeside and the Highlands. Although the race itself was in Grantown-on-Spey, we stayed at the youth hostel in Aviemore instead, 30 minutes south west of Grantown. We arrived to our hostel before dinner time, and after checking in, we went for a stroll through a nature reserve close to the hostel. We dined on Primal Chilli con Carne and sweet potato (my carb-load food choice of the week), in the dining room and played a game of Monopoly before heading to bed before 10. We were both tired from the day, from the week really, and had a 6:30am start the next day.

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