Thursday, 27 March 2014

How to write a running blog - Inverness half marathon

I was at a race a couple of months back where somebody mentioned to me that my blog, which is supposed to be a running blog, seemed to feature an awful lot of socialising and eating and drinking and random stuff…but very little running. So I thought that this time I would do a real proper runner’s real proper running blog post and write about THE RUNNING. However this, I felt, would require a little research. My research involved trawling the internet for running blogs and there are a lot, an awful lot, and many seem to be rather different to my blog.

 Quite a few blogs seem to include details of daily training and most seem to have such a thing as a “training plan” against which to monitor progress and a race plan against which to monitor the mile by mile happenings in the race. Clearly this is where I’m going wrong. Most disconcertingly none of them weigh up the relative merits of the post race beer or whisky, it’s all about THE RUNNING. There is, however, a lot of rather dull chat about race nutrition and kit. This is perhaps forgivable when writing about an ultra but for a half marathon?. 

Anyway for the purposes of this blog posting I’ve come to the following conclusions – for it to be a real proper running blog the primary focus needs to be THE RUNNING and not the socialising and eating and drinking and, at the very least, a real proper running blog should feature a mile by mile account of the race and all the competitors thoughts and experiences of the race. So for the purposes of this posting I have done the same….
(In case anyone needs subtitles they are in brackets underneath).

                                     We stocked up on vital pre-race nutritional products
                                                            (Pass me the corkscrew)

 And we spent the evening focusing on carbohydrate loading and our hydration levels
(we got stuck in to the wine, whisky and amazing food that Joanie had prepared for us)

The evening was spend in deep concentration visualising the race and focusing on the task ahead
(I was introduced to “The Voice”. Apparently I’m the only person in the world who has never seen it before. Now I know why)

 Next morning we each focused on our intensive pre-race warm up routine
(we sat around nervously talking rubbish and guzzling coffee whilst trying to give each other an earworm with annoying Kylie and Katy Perry songs, an earworm that would hopefully last the entire race BUWWWAHAHAHAHA!!!….)

Mile 1 -I set off at a good positive pace that should take me under my pb
(Shit! Man, this is way too fast…!)
Mile 2- I adjusted my pace according to my race schedule
(Gotta slow down – I’m knackered already)
Mile 3- I kept a keen an eye out for the competition, easy to lose sight of them in the crowd
(Wonder where John is, if he goes past me in the last mile I’ll never speak to him again)
Mile 4 – Here’s a hill. I’ve been practising those in training especially
(I like Saturday morning hill training ‘coz you get tea and cake afterwards)
Mile 5 - I must concentrate on my nutrition and hydration strategy
(I wonder if there’s anything on that water station table that looks remotely tasty? Those carbo shot gels give me the dry boak)
Mile 6 – I’ve trained hard for this so I am expecting a good time
(on my 25 mile a week? Who am I trying to kid?)
Mile 7- I think my nutrition strategy is slightly flawed I wonder if the next water station has gels
(I’m hungry. I wonder if there is any sponge cake left back at Joanie’s?)
Mile 8- I’ve slowed, I must work to maintain this pace
(Wonder where John is, if he goes past me in the last mile I’ll never speak to him again)
Mile 9- I’m definitely feeling depleted
(I’m very hungry. I wonder if there is any sponge cake left back at Joanie’s?)
Mile 10 –Only 3 miles to go and I'm still on target
(Hope I make it inside 2 hours)
Mile 11 – I wonder how far behind the race leaders I am
(I bet Bert has finished by now – smug git)
Mile 12 – this is getting difficult now, must focus on the finish
(I wonder if there’s any sponge cake AND whisky back at Joanie’s?)
Mile 13 – I glance at the clock and all the detailed race prep and focus has been rewarded with a pb as expected
(HTF did that happen? - try not to wobble, fall over or puke…)

It doesn’t really work does it? In future think I’ll stick to writing about the socialising and eating and drinking…I haven't even got any pictures of anyone actually running...

                                         The race warm down followed a predictable pattern

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Lochaber Cow Hill Race

For the benefit of the uninitiated Mountain Festivals are usually presented by people who do extreme ‘ard as nails stuff to an audience full of ‘ard as nails people who do extreme ‘ard as nails stuff. And I sometimes go along too.
Usually the talks are all about climbing and the big scary adventures that climbers get up to but this year Fort William Mountain Festival held a hill running night.
First up was a film about The Dragon’s Back, an epic multi day mountain race along the mountainous spine of Wales and it really is as tough as it sounds. In fact it’s tougher than it sounds. Only 30 of the 100 plus entrants actually finished and these were the crème de la crème of long distance mountain runners and, in true mountain festival style, there were plenty of pictures of breath taking scenery and sharp intake of breath injuries, mainly to feet. Come to think of it even the winners looked more exhausted than elated on crossing the finish line. It was a stunning film and did have quite an inspirational affect…maybe one day…Reality check required!


If that whets your appetite then the dvd can be purchased through the Dragon’s Back Race Website

Next was Manny Gorman talking about his self powered round of all the Corbetts in Scotland over a couple of months in the summer of 2009, These are hills of between 2500 – 3000ft and there are 219 of them, they are much more widely dispersed throughout Scotland than are the Munros just to make things more difficult. Manny was backed up by partner Brenda and the trusty campervan and as this trip was entirely self powered it entailed cycling between the hills where the distances were too great to run but fortunately someone talked him out of the idea of sailing between the Scottish islands in a dinghy and he used a proper sailing boat. Manny put on a very entertaining talk about his adventures with plenty of pictures of breath taking scenery and sharp intake of breath injuries (can you see a theme developing here?) including a borderline case of trench foot although I was very glad that there were no pictures of the intestinal parasites. Yes really. You can read all about it in his book which is available from

Buy Manny's book at (no, i'm not working on commission...)
 Finally there was a question and answer session with Finlay Wild, the current record holder for the traverse of the Skye Ridge in summer, and with Donald King and Guy Steven who were part of the team that holds the record for the winter traverse of the ridge. (happily no gory injury photos here just plenty of breath taking scenery photos)

It was a great evening of tales of adventure followed by an equally great evening in the pub in Fort William.

One day I will run up Cow Hill and it will not be raining. One day. Despite an unpromising downpour earlier in the morning it was dry enough to abandon the waterproof jacket by the start of the race… so needless to say it started to rain mid race. Although there seems to have been masses of snow on the high mountains this winter there seems to be very little at lower levels and Cow Hill and the Glen were totally free of snow. This was a great little informal race held by Lochaber AC for those who had come up to Fort William for the mountain festival and who were suitably inspired by the heroic hill running stories of the previous evening. Turn up, pay £1 entry fee and run, no prizes, dead informal. Perfect.

on the way up the hill

Starting at the car park at the leisure centre the route zig zagged up the hill before joining a level track running along the side of the hill then a climb over a gate and a stumble though the boggy open hillside to the summit and the radio masts. Arriving at the top well out of puff was enough of the reality check that I required regarding any future potential participation in the Dragons Back race!  Next the route followed a long stretch of landrover track before joining a well made path leading back down the hill. Amazingly I actually passed two people on the descent which doesn’t often happen so I did finish feeling rather pleased with myself. Admittedly though this wasn’t the gnarliest of descents :-)

 There was a good Lochaber AC turnout as you might expect and a good Lomies turnout with Colin and Joan (a little fragile from the night before) and Gus and Jean Bowman. 

Colin coming into the finish
Gus approaching the finish line
The Finish
Jean had taken a bit of a tumble on the descent so in true mountain festival style I am able to post photos here in this blog of breathtaking scenery and sharp intake of breath injury…

 * Thanks to Steven Fallon for his great race photographs. (the shaky blurry finish line photos are mine!!)