A month ago yesterday was the Ring of Steall Skyrace, part of a phenomenal weekend put together by the Skyline Scotland team, Ourea Events and the amazing people that make up the mountain running community.
This was my big race of 2016. I was trying something new (skyrunning: big ascents, tough terrain), flirting with ultra running time-on-your-feet territory, and pushing my boundaries physically, but most importantly, mentally. I learned so much about myself during the entire training period, about what I can do, how my mind puts limitations on my abilities, and how to continue to push through mental barriers. In a way, when it comes to trail running, I grew up.
The weekend started with a drive in the dark from our home in Aberdeenshire to Kinlochleven, the location of the Skyline Scotland race weekend, as well as Ice Factor, the very important event centre. Pat and I arrived at Ice Factor with minutes to spare before registration shut. Thankfully, we were the only ones registering at the time, despite the many competitors lingering about the place. We picked up our race bibs and maps, got our dibbers fastened onto our wrists, got photos taken, picked up our complimentary race t-shirt, and got our kit bags checked by staff. We also impulse-purchased the Skyline Scotland hoodies. It was then off to our accommodation to attempt to unpack, unwind and get some sleep before the biggest race of our lives.
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.
I know my blog has been a bit quiet lately, but for good reason. Last week, my very good friend, and Coconut Friend, Alicia, came for a visit. This was a most special visit because, after living in Berlin for two years, she is now moving back to Canada. Alicia’s visit was the last time we will see each other for a while. The two paleo friends were reunited, albeit temporarily.
Something I’ve always wanted to do in her last two visits is take Alicia to another part of Scotland. I got that opportunity last week. We went to the Cairngorms, the mountains in the centre of Scotland. We did some mountain biking, we hiked, we talked, we played some Farm Heroes Saga (aka Paleo Candy Crush), and of course, we ate paleo food! We were staying in self-catering accommodation with a fully equipped kitchen, which made staying paleo second nature. Below are some highlights of the delicious paleo dishes we enjoyed together.
Even though I was away, with my friend, I didn’t deviate from my usual creature-of-habit breakfast. How can you when it tastes so good?
My usual 3 fruit bowl of crumbled Nutter Bomb with Coconut milk instead of cream. I didn’t premake my cream like I normally do.
Summer in Scotland signals the arrival of highland games, a day of festivities held on a local estate, celebrating all things Scottish: Highland dancing, pipe bands, and highland games events themselves, like tossing the caber. Last weekend was the Drumtochty Highland Games, at Drumtochty Castle.
Drumtochty is one of my favourite places to run: it’s got huge hills with landrover tracks cut through the forest by the Forestry Commission. There are miles upon miles of trails and tracks that will take you all the way to Stonehaven, 20 miles away. Drumtochty is also where I trained for my big Balmoral Challenge. And Drumtochty is where I ran the Finella Hill Race, a 6 mile up-and-down hill race, through the thick South Drumtochty forest.
Rather than do my last ‘long’ run of 6 miles to wind down half marathon training, I decided to enter this local race. I learned about it last year, and always being up for a new challenge and needing to run some hills in preparation for next weekend’s race, I entered. I did have visions of last year’s Johnston Tower Race last place finish, and with a field of only 19 runners altogether, I knew I had some hard work ahead of me.
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.
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.
Linking up with Peas and Crayons today because it’s What I Ate Wednesday, a day to share the meals I’ve prepared for myself and eaten, and an opportunity for you to see the day to day meals of a primal eater.
*hint: click on the links for some meal ideas! And check out my Primal Recipes page for more. Continue reading
The following post is a reflection of my time in Scotland, and is not at all related to issues surrounding the vote for Scottish independence, or my views on the referendum.
This summer marked an important date for me: July 29th. That day, five years ago, was the day I left Canada and moved to Scotland to be with my then boyfriend, now husband. It was a big chance to take – having left a good, permanent job with Edmonton Public Schools and permanent teaching certification in the province of Alberta – for what was supposed to be a two-year leave of absence. The plan was to return to Canada together after those two years to start a life in either Alberta or British Columbia.