Wednesday, 28 June 2017

WEST HIGHLAND WAY RACE 2017

After 7 months of training the WHW weekend had arrived, 96 miles with 15000ft of elevation to negotiate to collect goblet number three. Race prep had been structured well and my race crew of Mark and Duncan from the last two attempts were alongside me again to assist me along the way. We had also been given a big boys toy car for the weekend for the lads to have fun with courtesy of Evans Halshaw.



Having struggled a little in the last few months with a sore left foot and an on and off hip niggle I knew my ultimate goal of an 18 hour finish was going to be a big ask but I wrote the plan for that with other contingencies if I was off the pace. On Thursday I had a tight right hamstring but I just put it down to resting with only a few miles ran in the week leading up to the start but come 1am on Saturday morning standing on the start line I was still massaging and stretching it to get it loosened. I said to Mark it would probably ease of after a few miles but it turned out it was 41 miles at Beinglas till it eased off and then I suspect the damage for compensating had been done and now the plan had been ripped up and just finishing was the new target.

At Auchtertyre Farm I was 1.5kg under my starting weight and realised I hadn't been drinking enough so had a mullerrice and a bottle of water here and asked the lads to meet me again at Tyndrum for another snack and juice.

Photo by Chuck Gordon at Tyndrum
The blue skies at Tyndrum were to be the last I would observe for the rest of the race as the weather decided to take a turn for the worse. As I approached the last climb on Rannoch Moor a topless *male* relay runner came past me asking how far to Glencoe and I replied it was about 2 miles from where we were, 1 mile to the top of the climb and 1 mile downhill. I thought to myself he must have been feeling the heat and in all fairness it was actually great running weather but just as I got to the top of the climb a rather ominous breeze hit me and then I got drenched with hailstones and rain. This had an amazing effect on me as the cold took an instant hold and I felt my body start to slow right down. By the time I got to the checkpoint I was shivering and honestly didn't know where I was.

It is at this point a good crew are worth their weight in gold and Mark and Duncan got me straight in the motor, gear changed and thoroughly heated up. Mark even disappeared for a few minutes and came back with a half litre of milky hot coffee which went down a treat. As I set off again the first thoughts of a DNF set in. The lads stopped at Kingshouse to double check I was fine but I was shivering so they made me sit in the motor again till this wore off. Although I lost about 40 minutes here it was the best thing to do and after exiting Kingshouse I had a great shift over the Devils Staircase and down in to Kinlochleven and the final checkpoint. Final weigh in and I was good to go, although had to change pack here as it was now mandatory full waterproof kit.

The climb up on to Lairig Moor was as quick as I have ever done but the joy of that was to be short lived as once up there it was absolutely howling. Head first into a the wind and driving rain there was nothing for it head down and move. There was hardly a part for the next 6 miles where you were not going through water so much so my toes began to feel freezing. At this point when every bit of me was soaked and even my sealskin waterproof gloves were squelching my mind began to wander and a funny thought came to me which I just couldn't stop thinking about * *what good will that foil blanket do me now** I just laughed out loud, f**k the blanket the only thing saving me now will be speed as I cannot afford to get any colder. I just legged it as fast as possible to get to Lundavra, meet the crew and change gear. I didn't pause my watch here as I was just letting it go from start to finish but I am going to try and calculate my final split without the stop in the vehicle again as I did cover the final section quickly when actually moving.

Lundavra to the finish was rather uneventful, although I was pleased they have altered the descent to the small wooden bridge in the forest section as I have slipped down that a few times. My last 3 miles were the fastest of the day so still had something left in the old legs. Finish time at the Leisure Centre was 21hrs 10minutes, slower than expected but a finish nonetheless.

That one was for you DAD.

WHW RACE - Strava details




That is 3 starts and 3 finishes so think I will let it rest at that for a while and try and get some speed back in my legs.

Many thanks to to Mark and Duncan for sterling support throughout, without them I would have been out at Glencoe. To James Stewart and Rob Soutar, cheers guys your support has been immense.

To Ian/Sean/Adrian/John and the cast of hundreds of marshalls on the WHW crew thank your for putting on another great race.

To my long suffering wife and son thanks for putting up with my falling asleep at 6pm on a Sunday evening after getting up at 4:30am on my Sunday days off to get my long training runs in, you will be rewarded with a holiday which may or may not involve a race!!!!


Tuesday, 13 June 2017

WHW TAPER TIME

So six months of all out training and the taper has begun towards next weekends 2017 'A' Race, the West Highland Way Race. It has been a quick 6 months and I cannot say I have enjoyed it all, in fact it just shows how precious life is and how we should all get out there and live for the moment as life is such a cruel thing at time.

In my last blog I reported how a great friend and long time running mentor had died suddenly and how I was wearing my old club vest in his memory for the rest of the year. Well it turned out I was going to get hit with another shock when on the 27th March my dad died suddenly. To say this was a shock would be an understatement as there had been no indication of any problems and he was actually active till the end, so much so that it was on a group ride with friends out on his road bike he had a heart attack which took him instantly. He was half way up the Crow Road climbing the Campsie Fells at the time and the only positive thought I could put on it at the time was at least he was doing something he enjoyed and he suffered no pain.




It is times like that when friends rally round and the support we all received was tremendous and I would like to say a big thanks everyone who contacted me with kind wishes and thoughts. On the Sunday after my dads death we had arranged a group run and Alex Potter mentioned a song that had touched him in similar circumstances and when I got home he had sent it to me on itunes so I thought I would share it with you all as if I am crying you all may as well join in.





Training continued on and my appetite for running slowly filtered back and with the support of Michael, Rob, Alex , Mark and James I now think I am as fit as I should be for the race so hopefully I can do myself justice with a great WHW race and I suppose I don't need to say it but 'this one is for you dad'.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

WEST HIGHLAND WAY RACE TRAINING UPDATE

Time is now closing in on the West Highland Way Race start with 13 weeks to go till the big day. December and January were great training months with great weather apart from the odd wet day. My first block of training through Christmas and New Year led me nicely up to the Dubai Marathon on Friday 20th January.

Being a loving family guy I had managed to squeeze the marathon in on the way to Phuket for my summer 2016 holiday, I know it was late but better late than never. So a few days relaxing at the Atlantis Palm hotel with a few easy runs to acclimatize and catch up with family. One thing I had to compromise on when booking was Linda said her and Andrew didn't care how far away from the marathon start the hotel was that was where they were staying so I had to get up a little earlier than I had really wanted to get to the start at 6.30am.



You could not get a more relaxed or easy marathon to get to the start line and I kid you not the taxi dropped me 200 metres from the start line, in fact it was a longer walk to the toilets. Michael had messaged me that he was approaching from the other side of the start line and quickly we had met up and headed for the starting pens. Unlike Berlin it was apparent we were in for a bit of a messy start as a few not so svelte runners pushed their way as near the start tape as they could. Not to worry I wasn't chasing the world record today but this did cause a problem for a certain elite runner who I had to vault over a few seconds after the start.

The race itself was rather uneventful although a bit warmer than last year at the start and really hot on the return section once the sun broke through the early morning haze. It was remarkable the amount of elite runners walking back to the finish having totally blown up enroute, gives you a good feeling to know you have paced it sensibly when you see the mess of some of them. Janet had kindly offered to hand us our drinks bottles as her and Michaels hotel was at the 13/22 mile point in the race and I was certainly in need of my tailwind on the return stretch.



We both had good runs with Michael slowing slightly more than me in the final 2 miles fighting cramp, I crossed the line in 2:57:31 and Michael 2:57:44. At the finish we were approached by a gentleman complimenting us on our running vests which he had spied, turns out he is the boss of Frontrunner, the company I use for all my t-shirts hats and buffs. With the time only now being 9:35 am I reckoned I could still make breakfast at the hotel and with the taxi rank being exactly where I had been dropped earlier I was back in the hotel 20 minutes later and Linda and Andrew were at a table waiting for me. I managed to have a recovery scoff and then conked out on a sunlounger.




After a relaxing week in Phuket with a few recovery runs thrown in it was back home with the next race up the Kirkintilloch 12.5km, an annual test of how good the winter training has gone. As this was a long run day I tied this in with a 10km warm up over to the start and a 10km warm down after the race. Training must be going ok as I was 20 seconds faster than last year and felt comfortable all the way even in rather blustery conditions. This all lead on nicely to 4 weeks of mile building for the Loch Katrine Marathon on Sunday 19th March.

The build up to Loch Katrine had been good but an ongoing niggle in my shoulder seemed to move downwards to my glute and hamstring but I have been managing it with stretching and rolling. Training partner Rob had also been beset with injury and was on the comeback from broken ribs so we had had a good few weekend runs looking forward to this race. Raceday itself and the weather was not looking too promising but by the time we got to LK it looked like we were going to have pleasant conditions, a little wind but nothing to seriously hamper the run.

I don't know what was going on
I will not go in to too much detail but this is a race which soon finds out if you are below par or not and after about 5 miles with my right leg constantly pinging away I sussed I couldn't maintain the pace required to stick with Rob and the other lad he was chasing and had to ease off and let them surge ahead in the hope I would reel them in later. Sadly this wasn't the case and I gradually lost time on them on the return leg after the turn at Stronachlachar. Rob went on to win in 2:58 and I came in 4th in 3:07 a full 13 minutes down on my winning time 2 years ago. Now is the time to get the leg seen to with bigger targets ahead, so physio this week to get it sorted.

Many thanks and lots of praise again to Audrey McIntosh and the full support crew at this running festival, such a great event from the 10k, half and full marathon. If you haven't done any of the races before stick it in your diary for next year, you will not be disappointed : LOCH KATRINE MARATHON

Sadly on the Thursday before the race I attended the funeral of great friend and running club colleague Kenny McVey who had died suddenly after a short illness. This had come as a great shock to all of us at Victoria Park City of Glasgow and I had spoken to him a couple of days before his death regarding upcoming races. Kenny was the first person I had contact with when I joined the club and I will always remember with fondness his tales when out running on our Sunday morning runs from the Allander Sports Centre. One thing he always wanted was the club to retain the original hooped vest the club had before the Victoria Park AC merger with City of Glasgow a few years back so in memory of him I decided I will be wearing my hooped jersey for the rest of the season and Sunday was the first outing.


Me and Kenny

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

THE BELATED BERLIN AND LOCH RANNOCH MARATHON BLOG AND MORE!!!!!

You know you have lapsed a bit in the blogging stakes when you come to do a review of the year and the last report was 5 months ago so I will try and be brief and catch up in as few paragraphs as possible. I like to do report on races I have done to give as much information to others who are thinking about entering the same races a little insight on what to expect.

After the John Lucas 50 Mile next up was the Berlin Marathon where I was again meeting Michael for another jolly around a city. We had both targeted this as a possible sub 2:50 and for me this was the years 'A' race having taken a step away from the ultras for the year. Unfortunately we had both been having back problems and it was apparent as the race fastly approached that it was just going to be a set off and see how it goes day. My problems got so bad I finally gave in and sought help from Matt Williamson, a fellow ultra runner and highly recommended physio. The diagnosis was actually not too bad but the fix was not going to happen in time for Berlin, in fact the fix is still ongoing but gradually I am feeling like a runner again and many thanks to Matt for getting to the root of a 3 year problem.

So the brief report of Berlin is it is a marvellous race in a beautifully friendly city with top notch organisation. From arriving at the airport to negotiating the train system it was a great weekend, and we even managed to get Andrew entered in the kids race on the Saturday which he loved.



Andrew in his Barcelona running gear catching the German tri lad finishing 4th
Myself and Michael had a couple of early morning runs before race day taking the opportunity to send a few selfies and the rest of the days were spent sightseeing, eating and drinking.



Linda and Andrew had a great time chasing German pokeman whilst touring Checkpoint Charlie and then onto Berlin Zoo whilst I discovered a love for alcohol free lager.




The race itself went fine and due to some great German efficiency the starting pens had the correct people in the allocated expected finish times and at no time from the start did you feel as if you were being held back by slower runners. Those who run London for example will understand what I mean here and it does make for an more even paced relaxed start. The course itself is almost flat and we ran together till just after half way when I pulled ahead of Michael. Now at no point did I see him pass me nor does he have any recollection of passing me from then but at 40km where we had planned to see Linda , Janet and Andrew where they would have juice for us if required Janet took a photo and remarkably we were almost next to each other without knowing it.

He's beside you!!!

I grabbed a bottle of coke from Linda here and downed it and glanced to my right with Michael asking 'where did you come from?'


I asked if he was feeling good and fancied pushing it and as usual was told to go do one so off I plodded with little under 2km to go. Similar to London when Big Ben fails to get much bigger as you approach it the Brandenburg Gate seemed a long way off as you approach it but once under it a couple of hundred metre with throngs of cheering support you cruise down to the finish line. I finished in 2:57:23 and Michael 2:57:40 , both satisfied considering how our training had been going.

Slightly burst we headed for post race nutrition and hydration.


The general consensus is Berlin is a great marathon and a smashing city for a family break too, only downside would be the race entry fee which I believe is now about £120.

So next up was the Loch Rannoch Marathon which I had only entered as I was driving Catherine, and Holly up for the full marathon and Collette for the half marathon and thought why not enter the full bhuna it has been weeks since I raced. The weather was a bit blowy but not unexpected for Perthshire in October.



The girls were all sporting their new team vests for the race, so easily seen enroute. The half marathon runners are meant to be bussed out to halfway before the full marathon starts but the buses were late arriving so the marathon started on time with the half runners still in Kinloch Rannoch. My legs felt fine till about 12 miles when I just started feeling sluggish and Berlin kicked in. Just before halfway 2 big coaches were blocking the road and we had to divert onto the verge to pass them as the disembarking half runners made their way to the start. This meant the return leg along the other side of the loch was going to be lonely as I had been expecting to be chasing down half marathon runners but as they hadn't started obviously no company to be had and the water stops unmanned. It got a bit blowy and wet on the return and I certainly felt myself slow down but held it together enough to finish in 3:00:06. All the ladies had great runs and were delighted with their finishing times and Holly completed her charity fundraising marathon.

Bus problems aside this would also make my list of recommended marathons.

That brought the marathon count for the year to six, quite a bit for a rest year but they have all been fun and times have all been consistent although no PBs broke.


Final race of the year is the Glen Ogle 33 , my 6th year of running it and remaining an ever present. I always find the new start tough on this with a lack of energy going uphill for the first 4 miles but normally get a second wind coming down. The weather gods were kind this year although a bit cold for my liking but nothing to worry about.

Sharing a few miles with Euan Craig




 Mostly the run went fine sharing a few downhill miles with Euan Craig (no relation) till he ran away from me and it was great to see all the cheery marshalls and share a hug or two. I felt a bit lethargic on the return up the cycle path and just eased off to a comfortable pace and kept it all together to finish without doing any damage. 10 minutes slower than previously but no complaints as it has been a great year of steady running.

Plans for 2017

With all that done and dusted my hope now was securing a place for the West Highland Way Race 2017 and luckily it was confirmed in the 1st week of December I had been successful. Having completed the race twice previously I have a good idea of the training involved as can be seen from the tab at the top for my previous training schedules but I am really taking this next attempt seriously and will embark on some more structured training than before. I have already started this and am on about week 7 of it with the first 'B' race of the year 2 weeks away at the Dubai Marathon on the 20th January. The second 'B' race will be the Highland Fling in April all structured towards the 'A' race for the year in June, Milngavie to Fort William 95 miles of fun. There are a few other races in between the main races but I will be treating them all as training and will build them in to the plan.

Sadly I have declined my London Marathon pacing slot for this year as it is the week before the Fling and my new found sensible head ruled the pacing out but hopefully I will return next year although if something does go awry I do have a good for age slot which can be deferred right up till race day.

So that is us all caught up and I will not leave it as long from on in, monthly updates will be appearing with hopefully the Dubai report at the end of January.

Hope you all had a great Christmas and New Year and look forward to catching up throughout the year.


Friday, 19 August 2016

JOHN LUCAS MEMORIAL ROUND STRATHAVEN 50 MILE ULTRA

Normal logic and common sense would all point to the fact that running a 50 mile race only 3 weeks after finishing a 40 miler is not the wisest of moves but as my preferred surface is tarmac and this race is logistically *just up the road* it was a no brainer and had to be done. The JLRS50 always has a relatively small amount of entries but the addition of the relay race has boosted numbers on the route and created a lot more interest in the event.

The target for the day was just to finish as 50 miles on tar is tough going so any finish is a bonus, the next target is to finish with a good placing and as the main opposition was Grant Jeans (course record holder) Rob Soutar (2 times previous winner) and James Stewart ( not too shabby a runner) it was obvious it was going to need  a shift and a half to displace any of them from in front of me. I was on taxi duty and picked up Rob and James and we arrived in plenty of time in Strathaven to ready ourselves for the exertions ahead.

The 3 Amigos before the race
 Race start at 8am and in the first mile it was obvious Grant was on a mission to win as he shot off up the hill at a speed you would only expect in a 10km race so the next 10 miles we 3 trundled along discussing the pros and cons of that particular tactic and quite frankly could only find cons but each to their own as they say. If he was having a good day we wouldn't see him again and on the other hand if it went pear shaped when would it happen. My bet was on 32 miles so more on that later.

At the first checkpoint after 10 miles I grabbed my drink bottle and carried on but could feel a niggle in my right hip and groin and as Rob caught up with me after his 3rd pee stop I think he had spied this from behind and asked if  everything was ok to which I confessed no it wasn't. Well this must have been all that was required for 2 mates to ditch another as the 2 amigos gradually picked the pace up and starting pulling further ahead of me. From this point at 13 miles the pain gradually increased and this is where the mental strength of ultra running comes in as you start discussing with yourself at which point do you decide to call it a day and what is an injury or just something you can *run off* . with a mere 37 miles of running left I decided to ease the pace and nurse it till checkpoint 2 at 19 miles and reassess. As I crossed the road and approached where the checkpoint normally is there was a distinct lack of bodies so I carried on through wondering if they had set up further up the road but a mile or two on and no sign of anyone I resigned myself to no juice till the next checkpoint at 26 miles and as the pain was not increasing I may as well carry till the next checkpoint at least.


 At this point in the race at high Langridge our 3 intrepid adventurers ahead all decided to go off piste and rewrite the route, luckily for them the road they took hooked back exactly where the correct route would go to the checkpoint in Stonehouse so they didn't get lost somewhere in deepest darkest South Lanarkshire and not much difference in distance.

Correct route, do not go straight ahead!
In need of a drink I looked forward to my drop bag bottles at Stonehouse but it wasn't to be as I was informed we were covering the route too fast and the vehicle hadn't arrived with the goods yet but were enroute and the kind gent would drive out and bring them asap if I just carried on running. About a mile and a half later the support car pulled along side me and the package handed over. I downed the bottle of coke quicker than a pint of lager and carried my tailwind bottle which I gradually got through in the next couple of miles. This leg is about 14 miles and just seems to go on and on as you head for Auldhouse at 40 miles and would you believe it at 32 miles just after Glassford the support car coming the other way stopped and kindly handed me a bottle of coke and Grants voice from the back seat saying Rob and James were a mile or two so up the road. Now I was in 3rd place chasing down the two machines and any thoughts of pulling out had to be put aside as the final checkpoint loomed closer.

Checkpoint 4 (40 miles) at Auldhouse arrived soon enough and my final drop bag had made it so coke downed and tailwind drink in hand I gave myself a talking to and persuaded myself that no amount of pain in my hip could prevent a finish and it was *only* 10 miles till the end. I had no idea how far I was behind and really wasn't bothered , I would have been more disappointed with a DNF than a sore leg. After the climb up to Whitelees Wind Farm the race is generally an undulating 10km downhill to the finish and I picked the pace up thankfully as the relay runners started to appear steadily passing on their way to the end. A 51 minute 10km to finish on tired legs cannot be all bad and I finished in 6hr 54 mins with Rob 2nd in *6hr 29min and James 1st in *6hr 19mins.

* James and Robs route (hee hee)



Drop bag issues aside this year this is a wonderful race to take part in and I would encourage anyone to come and give it a go, and if you are not up for the full bhuna enter a relay team and join in the fun. Many thanks to the Lucas organising team and stewards for another unforgetable race.

Friday, 22 July 2016

TAKING IT EASY

It has been a few weeks since the last blog and time seems to be just speeding away this year. My plan for the year is a fast marathon in Berlin to see if I can go under 2:50 and that has been the target for many months and the reason for entering so few races this year. Well that was the plan but a look at what I have entered for the next few months and what I have completed already I may have slipped up a bit but if I am fit I will be fine.

Sunday 15th May

After London the next marathon up was Brathay Windermere but the small matter of the Monklands Half the week before to get the legs back up to race pace. Monklands is great local half organised by North Lanarkshire Council Leisure Dept and is superbly organised on a testing two and a half lap loop around the perimeter of Drumpellier Park in Coatbridge. I was accompanied by my brother Michael and little sister Kate for this one and knew Michael was in good shape for this with the Berlin target also on his radar. Race weather was perfect and we were treated to a beautiful day for running. A bit of cat and mouse for the first few miles till positions evened out and it was left to Michael to try and make up the 30 second gap I had opened with a mile to go, but he knew when I glimpsed him going round the last turn out of the park he wasn't going to catch me and we finished in 10th and 11th place is in 1:21:36 and 1:21:56 respectively with Kate having a comfortable finish in 1:56:50.

Kate, me, Michael
Sunday 22nd May

Next up was Windermere and a little extra race with no target time as it was actually a stag weekend with a fun run added for a laugh. Gavin Harvie had arranged the weekend for a jolly before his nuptials in July and as runners were travelling from around the country this just seemed to be the central point. Several of the guys had travelled down on the Friday but due to work stuff myself and Michael travelled down on Saturday afternoon accompanied by Duncan Thomson.

Athletes!!!!


Needless to say much beer was consumed and pre marathon curry consumed so I was feeling rather fragile on the start line on Sunday morning in the grounds of Brathay Hall at the head of Lake Windermere. With delicate head and guts we set off and it was apparent this was going to be a toughie early on although it didn't seem to affect Cris Walsh as he shot off like a greyhound out of a trap, maybe forgoing the stag do and travelling down on race morning was a sensible idea.

1st mile


race route


As marathon routes go this one is beautiful with some outstanding scenery and definitely a professionally organised event. I set off with Michael with the intention of running together as long as possible but I gradually pulled away from him as he felt a few of the climbs but as we reached halfway point he pulled alongside me and we had a mile or 2 together before more climbing began on the way to Ice Cream Hill at 21 miles, where if you fancied a stop for refueling after yet another hill ice cream could be had. Gavin, Lee and Kelvin took another course of action and stopped earlier at a pub for a pint. I realised a sub 3 hour run was slipping away but kept up an even pace but with a mile to after going over a short humpback footbridge the volcano of beer and curry still rattling around in my guts decided it was time to make an appearance and much to the spectators delight I deposited the contents of my belly on the roadside. This gave Michael a lift as he rounded the corner to see me only a short distance up the road but with only 500 mtrs to go not enough distance for him to catch me on the final climb.

the final climb pre race and still fun

The finishing line was a welcome sight with a 3:02:59 for me and 3:03:15 for Michael and amazingly 1st and second vet 45s, so even though I was rough we both got a prize.



The rest of the stag party trundled over the finishing line in various states of disrepair with us heading straight back home and Gav, Lee and Kelvin staying to celebrate some more.

Sunday 12th June

Next up was the Strathearn Marathon, yet another hilly one and only a few weeks recovery which also include a 33 mile recce run on the Clyde Stride route so no big expectations for this but hoping still to get in around about the 3 hour mark. I was nominated driver for the day collecting Julie McFall and Robert Soutar and arriving in plenty of time at Cultybraggan Camp on the outskirts of Comrie. The weather for the race was a bit wet and blowy but ideal running conditions. Robert was wanting a sub 3 hour time to apply for Good For Age in London next year and I had planned to run with him but it became apparent as we started the 7 mile slog uphill my legs had not recovered from Windermere so had no option but to watch him disappear off in front on his way to a superb 2:53:43 finish.

Me and Mark trying to get Rob to join Vicky Park

Boab on a mission

Top of the hill

Julie suitably unimpressed

                                                                                                                                                            Julie was not expecting too much from her marathon for the year due to a couple if niggling injuries but she too had a great strong run finishing in 4:05:39. My run turned in to a great training run for the Stride and I rattled out even splits finishing strongly in 3:01:09, although over the 3 mark it was unscathed. Another marvellous race which gets even better when you finish with an outstanding food spread laid on by the Strathearn Harriers and local community.


Saturday 16th July

A highlight of the year is the Clyde Stride Ultramarathon, 40 miles from Partick to New Lanark along the River Clyde and this year a lot of friends were coming in from all over the world to help celebrate Michaels 50th birthday on the 17th by taking part in the race and also a team entered from MR25 Michaels club in Singapore. Myself and Robert had shown Kevin ODonoghue the route a few weeks previously on a 33 mile recce run so I knew who the competition for placing would at least be coming from with those two racing.

Taking it all too seriously

Kenneth, Michael, me, Graham


Race morning and it was a wonderful atmosphere with visitors from afar and lots of other running and marshalling friends all congregating at registration and then the start line. My own race strategy for the race was carry nothing apart from salt tablets and a solitary gel in case of emergency and pick up a bottle of tailwind/water mix at each checkpoint. 

Straight from the start the race was fast as Grant Jeans, Rob and Kevin shot off at a pace of  around about 6 minute miles which was just not in my plan so I watched them gradually pull away hoping my own pace(which for miles 1-9 averaged 6:45 per mile) would keep me in contention later on. There were 2 other runners ahead of me one of whom I passed just after the long grass in section two which left 3 known to me and 1 other wearing a GREY t-shirt. As we exited Strathclyde Park Stephen Schofield had mine and Robs bottles instead of us getting them at checkpoint 2 and as I got there Rob had stopped and decided to pull out of the race so that left Kevin, Grant and the GREY lad in front now. On entering the cowfield (Barrons Haugh) I glimpsed Grant and steadily reeled him in for the next 3 mile passing him with about 3 miles to go to the checkpoint 3. Now 2 in front, Kevin and a GREY t-shirted runner.

approaching checkpoint 3

After checkpoint 3 my belly decided it was time to empty and I threw up all the juice and two salt tablets I had downed at the checkpoint but luckily I had the foresight to have left two bottles there and was carrying the extra one so took it easy for a mile or so and had another two tablets and slowly rehydrated. This is a tough section on tired legs I was really starting to slow down and had no idea if anyone was within touching distance till just before the new bridge at the pumping station where Davie who informed me I was catching the leaders. Davie offered me a gel but I declined as I wanted juice but he didn't have any but I knew the shop in Kirkfieldbank was only a mile away so not a problem I would get some there. As I approached the gate on the small climb to the road in to Kirkfieldbank  I caught sight of a runner but he was wearing a bright green t-shirt so presumed he was a relay runner and never gave it much thought even almost catching him as I went in to the shop and bought a bottle coke.

The shop stop took about 2 minutes going by my watch splits and I carried on hoping no-one had passed while I was in there. After safely negotiating the down then up section I exited onto the downhill road towards the finishing loop and again saw the GREEN t-shirted runner about 250 metres down the road. Carrying on around the final loop and through the hole in the wall I crossed the line to a hug from Lee to be told I wad 3rd place, about 1 minute behind 2nd and 6 minutes behind the winner Kevin. The lad in the GREEN t-shirt was 2nd place, so close to him but unaware I hadn't chased him!!!! Didn't get the chance to ask him but somewhere he must have changed tops.

Top 3 : 1 117 Kevin O'Donoghue 05:06:42 1ST MALE 2 66 Matthew Hunter 05:11:10 2ND MALE 3 83 Gerry Craig 05:12:48 3RD MALE

Results Here : CLYDE STRIDE RESULTS PAGE

GARMIN STATS FOR 2016 RACE

The rest of the visitors all had a great day running the race and I am sure a few will be back to take the challenge again in the coming years.

MR25 visiting team members and family

Me with my 2 brothers and dad
Race director Lee McLean puts in an amazing shift behind the scenes to offer us such a great race and both Michael and myself through our companies chip in a little and help wherever possible but even we were amazed when the prizegiving began and Lee announced there was now a trophy being awarded for the winning relay team which she has named the 'Craig Cup' , it is only now I am glad she hasn't had to call it the 'Craig Memorial Cup' .  I am sure the competition will now intensify for that particular race going by online comments!!!!!!


Friday, 29 April 2016

PACING AT THE LONDON MARATHON 2016

After the disappointment of pulling out of the Perth 100km at halfway I had been working on the injury and taking things gently enough to be fully prepared for my 3rd year in a row pacing at the London Marathon. The previous three Sunday long runs were 20+ miles @ 3:30 marathon pace and had all gone relatively comfortably although quite a bit of concentration required to ensure the splits were as even as possible. When you tend to do all of your long steady runs at approximately 7:15-30 minute miles this is not as easy a task as it sounds but I was confident I could pull it off. My race clothing had turned up on the previous week so I had enough time to wear it a few times and break it in although I opted not to use the Adidas Ultraboost running shoes on race day using my Hokas instead for a little more cushioning as the foot repairs.


Race week was hectic at work and I had to work on Saturday morning which was not a problem as Michael had offered to collect my race number and backpack/flag for the race as he was flying down on Friday.
The flight down to London and underground to Green Park negotiated easily I met with Michael at the hotel and we set off in hunt of dinner. My favourite  pre-marathon meal is steak and chips with a couple of beers and astonishingly Michael decided he was going to follow suit and have the same as me for a change ditching his pasta and veg regular nonsense although his was washed down with fizzy water.

Fed and watered we headed back to the hotel and I set about organising my kit for the morning which thankfully was all present and correct as it was now after 9pm and not much I could have done if there was a problem. It all sound easy just disappearing to London to run a race but I had not stopped since 6am and had put in a half shift at work as well.

Not too bad a sleep was had and I could have just rolled over and went back to sleep when the alarm went off at 5:45am. A brief glimpse out the window and I could see today was not going to be the nicest weather day ever on gods earth.





I caught up with a large group of fellow pacers for a photo opportunity pre race, in total there are 43 pacers all tasked with helping fellow runners achieve their goals.



As pacers we get no preferential treatment and we follow the same race rules as everyone else so off we all headed to our individual starts and went through the usual rituals we would do if we were not pacing. What I now know is the red start has a particularly large amount of trees which a large flag can strike and the baggage trucks are as far away from the start as they could possibly get them, I must have been privileged on my previous red starts on the Good for Age start. This was my 12th London marathon and has got to go down as the coldest ever, it was really cold considering it was late April and I just wanted to get moving to heat up. There was a lot of great banter whilst waiting in the holding pens and several runners told me they were going to stick with me as long as they could.

Where's Gerry!!!

I crossed the start line with 2:39 showing on the official clock so had to remember to deduct that from there on, easy at first but after a while the brain starts to wander and with all that is going on around it is rather difficult to remain focused. Glimpsing back occasionally I could tell there was quite a group concentrating on my flag and the miles ticked away nicely chatting to runners hearing their stories and goals for the day. There was hardly a section of the whole route which was not lined with spectators but one fellow stood out about 5 miles standing alone preaching from a bible, don't think he was too impressed with all these folk enjoying themselves on the lords day.

Unfortunately the signal on my Garmin went wonky somewhere around Canary Wharf and I clocked a 5:20 mile and my distance jumped by half a mile meaning I couldn't rely on it anymore so had to resort to auto-pilot and the course clocks, which is where remembering the 2:39 comes in handy!!. I kept on track and as I headed along the embankment with 2 miles to go started encouraging folk who had been with me all the way to push on for the 3:30. One lad who had stuck on my left hand side since halfway was beginning to toil and he couldn't respond much to my words so I slowed a little and told him to just sit tight next to me. I was close for 3;30 but this held me back a little but I was happy the group following had all pushed on a little and were going to hit the target.


Approaching the line I could see I was over 3:30 which was not an issue as the pacers remit is to ***ensure you pace a maximum/minimum of 1:30 either side of target time*** and my official time was 3:31:10 which also include almost wiping the clock and gantry out and having to stop and go back a bit to duck down and attempt it all again.

It gets quite emotional afterwards with folk coming up and thanking you for helping them along and it is a great feeling seeing the delight in peoples faces and emotions as they cross the line.

As is customary after the marathon a quick catch up and a couple of beers with my brothers before shooting back to the airport and flight home, a whirlind weekend and job accomplished.

For those with a keen eye for detail below are my split times :

Splits

Split
Time Of Day
Time
Diff
min/km
km/h
Place
5K
10:27:46
00:25:06
25:06
05:02
11.96
-
10K
10:52:58
00:50:18
25:12
05:03
11.91
-
15K
11:17:45
01:15:05
24:47
04:58
12.10
-
20K
11:42:42
01:40:03
24:58
05:00
12.02
-
HALF
11:48:06
01:45:26
05:23
04:56
12.20
-
25K
12:07:23
02:04:43
19:17
04:57
12.14
-
30K
12:32:23
02:29:43
25:00
05:00
12.00
-
35K
12:57:41
02:55:01
25:18
05:04
11.86
-
40K
13:22:56
03:20:16
25:15
05:03
11.88
-
FINISH
13:33:50
03:31:10
10:54
04:58
12.09
5756