Midweek runs

I was looking forward to getting back to my Ben Lomond runs. Due to a work commitment we switched to Wednesday night from our normal Thursday but thankfully Jonny and Cammie were able to still join me.

Thursday lunchtime I had an easy 7miles planned but I’ve decided to make it a tempo run if I’m feeling okay.

Wednesday – Ben Lomond Run

The weather forecast wasn’t too good but in the end it wasn’t too bad. It was pretty windy on the top and very cold but no rain.  As both Jonny and Cammie are far faster than me on the downhill I decided to push the pace a bit on the way up in the hope of taking a bit out of their legs!!

Cammie and I dropped Jonny fairly early on but he was not far behind so we carried on knowing he would catch me on the way down. I was feeling strong and pushed hard to the top. Cammie hung on until the final 20mins or so.

I reached the top in 1:13:48 (with a HR of 138). I think that’s the fastest I’ve been up for a while.  I didn’t wait around as I knew they would be flying past me soon enough.

After 15mins or so Cammie went flying past on his way to a 32 min descent. It’s been great to see how quickly Cammie has improved over the last 6 weeks or so on these runs and is looking good for his first ultra in August.

I felt I was moving downhill a lot better than I have since last year. For the first time in ages I felt I was running downhill rather than breaking.  Jonny still caught me though!!

I descended in 42:07 (HR 135) so I was really pleased with that.  The trip took me 1:55:56 overall.  I plan to run once a week for the next couple of weeks so will see if I can get it a bit lower.

Thursday – lunchtime road run

For my run this lunchtime I decided instead of an easy 7 miles I would do a 3 mile tempo effort in the middle. So I ran 2 miles easy, 3 at tempo pace and 2 miles cool down.

I felt I was moving well and happy with my splits once I had downloaded them …

tempo 05-29

Katrina was looking for a pair of Sketchers the other day and came across this site www.tonyprycesports.co.uk

They were selling the Go Run Ride 3 for £30 instead of £75 so I bought a pair.  They arrived today.

Sketchers GoRun 3

Posted in Ben Lomond run, Sketchers | Leave a comment

Training Plans for the next 3 weeks

I’ve had my week of easy recovery runs and was ready to get going again with a serious block of training as I build up to the Lakeland 100 which is my big A race for the year.

I was happy with my Cateran race but I have been reflecting a bit on how it compared to the Hardmoors 55.  I feel that the Hardmoors 55 was a better overall performance. One of the main differences in my build up to that one was the amount of speed work I had been doing as I prepared for the Inverness Half Marathon.

So I’ve decided to change my training a bit and add in some Fartlek sessions on a Monday night with Kilbarchan AAC. Normally once I start my ultra races I don’t do much speed work but I’m interested to see if it will help.

The session last night was 4mins (2mins Recovery) x 6 then 2mins (1min) recovery x 3.  The first three were out on the cycle track and against the wind which meant for the second three we had the wind behind us.  It certainly made a difference to the distances run.

fartlek 05-25

Once home and downloaded the stats I was pleased to see that I had run over 5 miles for the 30mins which is always my benchmark for a good run.

Here is my training plan for the next 3 weeks …

training plans june 15

The race is the Milngavie Trail race being organised by Graeme Reid and his scout group.  It looks a cracking route and fitted in well with my training.

In the L100 recce back to back we will finish off the course so we will have covered the whole route before the race. The plan is to run from Coniston to Keswick on the Saturday and then on Sunday to run from Keswick to Dockray on the Sunday. Dave T has promised a lovely run back to Keswick from Dockray to complete our 35 miles for the second day.

Jonny, Marco and I will be joining Dave T for these runs.  I have a suspicion that we might split into two groups with Dave and Marco leading the way!

Posted in Fartlek, Training plans | 1 Comment

Recovery Runs

My plan for this week after the Cateran race last Saturday was three easy runs Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Tuesday’s run I mentioned on my lessons learnt post so here is a quick summary of the next two.

Thursday – road run

I ran after work and once again kept my watch on current heart rate and made sure I kept it below 130. My legs felt really good and a few times I had to hold my self back a bit. Once home I was happy to see that my average pace for the 6.49 miles was 7:56 pace with an average HR of 129.

Saturday – off road run

All my off road runs from now on will have the Lakeland 100 in mind so I’ll be running with my fully kitted out rucksack. There is a fair amount of compulsory kit for the L100 so it’s good to get used to running with it.

I set off at 7am with the sun shining. There was a little chill in the air but it felt great to be out running.  Again I kept my watch on HR and made sure I didn’t do anything silly.

05-23 braes 2 05-23 braes 1

So another solid recovery run. The next 3 weeks are going to be an important block of training for the L100.  I’m going to do a mixture of speed work, runs up Ben Lomond and longer runs.

This weekend is the Hardmoors 110/160.  The 160 runners started on Friday night at 5pm so they have been going for almost 17hrs as I write. They all have trackers so I’ve been following their progress. Shelli Gordon (blue 4) is leading the way.

H160 trackers

Posted in Gleniffer Braes, Hardmoors 110 | Leave a comment

Lessons learnt from Cateran 55

I had my first recovery run today after work. I wore my heart rate strap and made sure I kept my HR below 130. My legs felt surprisingly good but I didn’t push it!! My little toe is a little sore with the blister but I can manage that!

I spent the run thinking about the race on Saturday. I always like to note down some lessons I have learnt from each race. So in no particular order …

# Preparation

Overall my preparation was good and I’m glad I did a recce run of the final 30miles a few weeks ago. But the few days before the race weren’t ideal but I honestly don’t think it affected me too much. I only had 3 and a half hours sleep before the race but I often don’t sleep too well before any race so that was no different.

# Kit

I was happy with all my kit. The visor worked well and the only thing I changed during the race was wearing my gloves for the final section over the hill.

# Pacing

I had my mini-splits but I was working on my HR again for this race. I felt really comfortable until about Kirkmichael (45 miles). I can’t download my Suunto at the moment so I don’t have the stats (I’ve sent it away so hopefully I will get them at some point).

I was checking my watch fairly regularly and I was keeping within my range of 135-140 for the majority of the run.  I would say though that for the final 9 miles I hardly looked at my HR as I was going as hard as I could and so it didn’t really matter!

My average for the whole run was 133 which is a bit lower than my 137 target.

I have sorted the splits into positions and they confirm how I felt on the day.

  • Dalnagair – 28th
  • Glenisha – 25th (25th split)
  • Alyth – 24th (22nd split)
  • Blairgowrie – 21st (14th split)
  • Bridge of Cally – 19th (12th split)
  • Enochdhu – 20th (12th split)
  • Spittal of Glenshee – 15th (21st split)

So my best splits in relation to the field were the legs to Blairgowrie, Bridge of Cally and to Enochdhu. My final split to the end was one of my worse but it wasn’t a disaster and others around me were around the same time.

# Nutrition

I felt I ate and drank well during the race but maybe I could have eaten more over the final 2 hours. Maybe that was one of the reasons I was struggling a bit at the end. This is what I ate and drank …

  • 2 slices of brown bread with peanut butter and jam
  • handful of peanut and raisins covered in youghat
  • mashed sweet potato and cheese
  • chia bar
  • energy bar
  • half a small tin of baked beans
  • Greek style youghat
  • 1 small cube of clif shot blok
  • 6 x 500ml of Matrix Energy Boost Drink
  • 1 x 500ml of Coke

So all in all another good run.  I always felt that sub 10hrs was going to be a real challenge and everything would have to go right on the day. I feel I got most things right but not all and some of that was out of my control (build up to the race and the wind).

I’m really happy that I was able to run 4mins faster than 5 years ago. At this rate in 12 years time I will break 10hrs!!

Posted in Lessons learnt | 2 Comments

Cateran 55 Race Report

Saturday 16th May 2015

The few days before my second ultra of the year were not ideal preparation but at least I was able to run this race again. Sadly Katrina’s Mum passed away on Saturday 2nd May and the funeral was arranged for 10.30am on Friday 15th May in South Wales.

Initially I thought I wouldn’t be able to run the race as the priority was to support Katrina and her family and I thought we would be staying the night and travel home on the Saturday.

Katrina had been in South Wales with her family for almost 3 weeks with her family and was happy to travel home in the afternoon.  So I drove down with Jo & Jono and Hollie on Thursday afternoon arriving at 11.30pm.

The service went well and Katrina gave a lovely tribute to her Mum having asked our girls to share their memories of their Mam.  We left at 2.45pm and with Jono sharing the driving we arrived home at 11.45pm.

I was in bed at 12.30am up again at 4am, left at 4.30am and drove the 2hrs to Spittal of Glenshee arriving at 6.30am which gave me 30mins to register, give in my drop bags and walk to the start line!

There were 75 starters in the 55 race. All the runners doing the 110 were now through and on their second lap. I saw Alyson Macpherson come through as I was getting my number. She looked in good spirits.

75 eager runners ready to get going on a lovely but chilly morning

I opted for my long sleeved green top as I knew once I got going I was soon warm up.

Number 18 ready to get going

Karen shouted go and we were off.  I started near the back as my plan was to run by heart rate and I wanted to ease into the race at my pace rather than feel I was being pulled along faster than I wanted.

Photo of the start thanks to Muriel Downie

Another great photo from Muriel Downie. You can just about spot me in green just before the red car

Spittal of Glenshee to Dalnagair Castle (5.64miles)

The first section is on lovely grassy paths with small up and downs and mainly runnable. I was aiming to keep my heart rate at 137 so as soon as it went over 140 I eased off and once it dropped to 135 I pushed on.

Over the first 20mins or so I eased passed a number of runners having a quick chat with most. I congratulated Kirsty on her Fling run and asked her whether she felt she had recovered in time for this. She was running with her friend Vicky and they planned to enjoy their day out on this lovely course.

I caught up with Keith Mabbot and we ended up running together for the next few hours. Keith was also running to heart rate so we chatted about that and lots of other topics over the next several miles. Keith follows me on Strava and said that our pace and effort is very similar.

Keith has had a sore back and so his longest run this year is only 21 miles so he wasn’t sure how he would fare after 25mile or so.  According to his calculations I would finish 20mins ahead of him!

I was feeling really comfortable as we came into the first checkpoint after 5.64miles. I didn’t have a drop bag here but paused to get a photo of the volunteers looking after the runners.

Karen, Geraldine and Sean with Keith to the right

Noanie was also there waiting for the 110 runners. After a high five I asked her how John Duncan was getting on. She said he wasn’t too far ahead so I wondered whether we might see him.

Leg: 5.64miles in 55:53 (9.54pace) – 27th position

Dalnagair Castle to Kirton of Glenisa (8.90miles)

Keith and I continued to chat. I discovered he works with the Navy as a bomb disposal expert and travels all over the world. He was also a top, top level cyclist competing against the likes of Chris Boardman. Very impressive!

A few times Keith said his heart rate was a few beats higher than his target but we stayed together.  I was keeping my HR within my zone. On the Suunto Ambit I have a screen which gives the HR graph for the previous hour or so and I was happy to see it was staying pretty level on about 135.

We could see John Duncan and Keith Anslie ahead and over the next hour or so we slowly caught up with them.

I was started drinking my Energy drink and ate my peanut and jam sandwich. I had put on my visor as the sun was shining now. It was still fairly chilly but I didn’t need my gloves.

As we came into the next checkpoint we caught up with a couple of guys doing the 110. They looked as though they were battling a bit but seemed in good spirits. Keith did the double last year so was full of encouragement for them as he had been there and knew what it felt like.

As we came into the checkpoint John Duncan was leaving so I was hoping to catch him over the next hour or so.

Not the best photo I’m afraid but Sandra, Julie and Helen were having lots of fun looking after the runners

Here is a better photo thanks to Sandra

The girls very efficiently refilled my water bottle and helped me sort out what I needed from my drop bag and within a minute I was away again.

  • Leg: 8.90 miles in 1:27:30 (9:50 pace)
  • Overall: 14.54miles in 2:23:20 (9:51 pace) – 27th position

Kirton of Glenisa to Den of Alyth (10.80miles)

Keith had been telling me that one of his aims today was to get in and out of checkpoints faster so I was surprised to leave on my own but assumed he would catch up which he did after 15mins or so.

There was a slight diversion at this point but we were soon back on the course. I had my gps trace on my watch and it is always reassuring to see my triangle back on the line of the course.

I ate my mashed sweet potato and cheese. I followed a tip I’d been given by biting off the corner on the plastic bag it was in and squeezing the contents into my mouth. It worked a treat as I had no sticky sweet potato on my hands!!

I went past 3 guys when I was on my own. They were walking on a flat section so assumed there were in the 110. When I congratulated them they said, ‘Oh we are only doing the 55!!’

I was slightly confused as they were either having fun with me or had gone off way too fast! When Keith caught up with me he told me it was the former as they were in the 110!!

We could see John and Keith A getting closer now. As we left the road and headed up the grassy hill they were within a hundred yards. Once we climbed over the fence and into the woods Keith M stopped for a week and that was the last I saw of him until the end. He told me after the race though that for the rest of the day he could see me at various points in the distance. He finished 12mins 41 secs after me so inside his 20min prediction!!

I finally caught up with John, Keith A and Meg Heaslop.  John and Keith said they could hear us for ages.  I ran the rest of the way to Alyth with them again chatting away on a variety of topics!

This was just before John took his top off!!

John offered to take a photo of me. Note the blue sky!

I was still keeping my heart rate in check and feeling good. I couldn’t remember too much of this section so it was fun to enjoy it afresh. There is a real variety to this route.

John pushed ahead a little bit as we approached Alyth so Keith and I followed him in.

Another great bunch of people at this checkpoint including Kynon & Rhona. I ate half my small tin of beans and took a nectarine to eat on the hill out of Alyth.

  • Leg: 10.80 miles in 1:54:30 (10:36 pace)
  • Overall: 25.34 miles in 4:18:40 (10:12 pace) – 27th position

Den of Alyth to Blairgowrie (5.48 miles)

I left John playing on the zip wire at the checkpoint and Keith stayed longer than me so I left with Alison Wylie and we ran through the woods together.  I could see a runner ahead and slowly caught up with him. He seemed to be walking most of the way whereas I was running and walking depending on my HR.

Four weeks ago I had done a recce run from Alyth to Spittal of Glenshee so from now this was all familiar ground.

Once we got off the road and onto the trail I caught up with John Moffat.  In 2013 John had caught me in the West Highland Way race with less than half mile to go and he took delight in reminding me of it!!

We ran together for the next mile or two chatting about his UTMB from last year and our plans for the rest of this year. There was one really muddy bit that we both wade through only to realise that the arrows directed us around it.

We both had mud caked up our shins and our shoes weighed an extra pound or two! It took a while to wipe them off.

Once we hit the road I knew we had just over two miles downhill running into the checkpoint at Blairgowrie.  John M was off down the hill running strongly and pretty soon John D caught me and went past. His shoes were free of mud so he obviously saw the arrows showing the way past the mud!!

As I arrived John D was leaving so he wasn’t wasting any time at the check points. Ada and her team had gone the extra mile at this check point and were all dressed up as minions ….

Great costumes at Blairgowrie

They were having a great time but were also very efficient at sorting me out and sending me on my way. I took with me a chia bar for the next leg.

  • Leg: 5.48 miles in 58:02 (10:35 pace)
  • Overall: 30.82 miles in 5:17:27 (10:18 pace) – 21st position

Blairgowrie to Bridge of Cally (6.87 miles)

I think John M took a bit longer at the checkpoint as I left on my own.  There is a climb out of the checkpoint but once I turned right and we were on the gravel path I could see John D not to far ahead.

Once again I settled into rhythm of running until my HR hit 140 then walking until it dropped to 135 and repeat! John seemed to have a similar pattern but he does his by feel and how he is breathing.

I went past a few people including Robin W who were out supporting. I slowly caught up with John D again and we ran together chatting about the Devils race. John has some great ideas especially about where to move the finish.

I look forward to seeing how what he comes up with. I have offered my services on the marshalling duties as Katrina will still be in Indonesia that weekend. In fact she arrives home on the Sunday so it fits in well.

John and I were chatting up with a couple of runners ahead. I stopped for my only wee of the race and John pushed on passing Alison.  I eventually caught up with Alison and we ran in together.

Ian Beattie, Mike Adams and Bill Heirs were at manning this checkpoint and once again they were super helpful and efficient in getting me in and out. I ate my favourite Greek style youghat and headed off again.

Bridge of Cally checkpoint

  • Leg: 6.87 miles in 1:18:39 (11:27 pace)
  • Overall: 37.69 miles in 6:38:06 (10:32 pace) – 19th place

Bridge of Cally to Enochdhu (10.43 miles)

There suddenly seemed to be a lot of runners around just ahead and behind. I’m not sure if I caught them at the checkpoint or they caught me. Anyway I carried on catching at least 3-4 of them on the uphill.

Once we were on the downhill they all went past me again and I was on my own. I was still running strongly but I felt I was having to work that bit harder to keep my HR up to 135 or so.

I was interested to see where I went wrong on my recce run and soon enough I came to the signpost that I missed. I stayed on the rocky path which heads up whereas the Cateran path drops down right to the woods.

It was a lovely run through the woods and it was a lot quicker than on the recce run!! The route comes to Dalnabreck where I had my mini-split and then for the next mile and a half the ground is very boggy and uneven.

I could see a few runners ahead including John D. I thought he was well away so I was actually quite encouraged to see that he was still within sight.  I caught up with a couple of the runners who had gone past me on the downhill and then eventually I caught up with John again.

We ran for a bit together then I must have pulled away because he wasn’t with me! I came into Kirkmichael where Noanie was marshalling.  I didn’t need any water so pushed on to the final checkpoint at Enochdhu.

I started to think a bit more about my finishing time and unless I was able to have an amazing final 8 miles I was going to be over 1ohrs. I always knew sub 10hrs was going to be a real challenge as my 2010 time of 10:14 was a decent time for me. Plus I’m 5 years older!!

My focus then became getting a PB which meant under 10:14. I felt that was more realistic and gave me something to work on. In 2010 I wasted time after Kirkmichael by taking the river path rather than the road so I hoped that would help me time wise.

I was starting to fatigue a bit now and wasn’t able to keep running as long as I should have. Instead of stopping at 140 HR I was walking when it reached 135 and I was letting it drop to 130 or below before I started running again.

In the end I decided to stop looking at my HR and just go as hard as I could. I felt I was doing as well as I could. I couldn’t see anyone ahead and didn’t look behind so I was in my own little space.

I arrived at the final checkpoint at Enochdhu where Stan, Flip and Elaine were marshalling. Another formula 1 pitstop saw me in and out in a blink of an eye. Stan filled up my water bottle with Coke and I took my clif shot bloks for the final push.


Final checkpoint

  • Leg: 10.43 miles in 2:03:36 (10:48 pace)
  • Overall: 48.12 miles in 8:42:22 (10:50 pace) 15th place

Enochdhu to Spitall of Glenshee (6.18 miles)

Noanie was also at the checkpoint probably waiting to cheer on John. As I left she said you’ll easily make sub 10hrs. I knew differently. I had 1hr 18mins to run the final 6 miles which includes the biggest climb of the day.

In the 2010 race it took me 1:22 and on my recce it took me the same so I didn’t think I could run it any faster given that I was feeling the pace. So my focus stayed on getting a PB!

I worked as hard as I could up the hill. I could see two runners ahead and I sometimes I thought they were coming back to me and other times they seemed to be getting further away.

I knew I could only go as fast as I could and if I caught them it would be a bonus and if John or anyone else caught me then they deserved it!

The final hill

I ran where I could and walked as hard as I could for the rest. The lunch hut eventually arrived so I knew I had just over 2 and a half miles to go. A final push to the top of the hill and then the long descent to the finish.

I made my way down as best I could.  All the way down I was convinced that John D was going to come bounding past with a big smile on his face. I was determined not to look back because I couldn’t do anything about it!

I reached the style and then I pushed as hard as I could over the final bit to the final gate. I ran past a few people on the road giving them all a high five!

I ran into the field and through the finishing arch. Muriel was on hand taking photos.

Sprinting to the finish! (Photo thanks to Muriel Downie)

Geraldine and Lee were recording the times and told me I’d finished 15th in 10:10:15 and as bonus as I discovered I was 1st Male Super Vet!!

  • Leg: 6.18 miles in 1:27:53 (14:13 pace)
  • Overall: 54.30 miles in 10:10:15 (11:14 pace) 15th place

Finishing Position

Over the next few hours I had a great time chatting to people, having a lovely hot shower a superb meal cooked by Sandra and Helen and watching other runners come in.

Thanks to Karen and her team of volunteers for putting on another excellent race. I’m so glad I came back for another run and I will be back again one day.

Congratulations to David Wilson for winning my ‘Guess My Time’ competition. His guess of 10:10:10 was the closest. David – when you read this can you get in touch so I can send you your prizes!

Finally a photo taken by John Mills which was posted on Facebook. I’m not quite sure where it was taken.05-17 JMills John

Posted in Cateran Trail Race | 4 Comments

Cateran 55 Update

Not long home after a great weekend running the Cateran 55 race yesterday. Full race report to come but in summary …

  • I finish 15th out of 75 starters
  • Time: 10:10:15 (pb by just over 4mins from 2010!!)
  • 1st Male Super Vet!

I was happy with my run and had a great time on the course.  Massive thanks to Karen and her team of volunteers who make the race so special.

Congratulations to David Wilson who won my ‘Guess My Time’ competition. His guess of 10:10:10 was the closest.



Posted in Cateran Trail Race, Guess My Time | Leave a comment

Guess My Time – Cateran 55

Thank you for all those who have entered my ‘Guess My Time’ Competition for the Cateran 55 Ultra Race.

Here is a list of all the guesses I have received …

  • (Please note if you sent me a guess in the last 24hrs I will add it to this list)
  • Dave Troman’s arrived after I did this. Dave guessed 9:44:13
  • Jonathan Gibson’s also arrived in time. 9:42:34

GMT Cateran 1GMT Cateran 2GMT 3

The 97 guesses break down as follows ….

  • under 9:30 – 10 guesses
  • between 9:30 and 9:45 – 21 guesses
  • between 9:45 and 10:00 – 37 guesses
  • between 10:00 and 10:15 – 22 guesses
  • over 10:15 – 7 guesses

So the majority of times are in the 15mins under 10hrs.

There has been a little discussion on Facebook as to which is the harder the Highland Fling or the Cateran. I posted that before I did the Cateran in 2010 that it would be easier but in that year I did both and my times were within a minute of each other.

  • 2010 Highland Fling – 10:14:09
  • 2010 Cateran – 10:14:41

I also thought that the Hardmoors 55 is very similar to the Fling and by the above to the Cateran so I’m wondering how my 9:35:40 in this year’s Hardmoors will equate to the Cateran on Saturday.  There is only one way to find out!!

Finally I’d like to wish all the runners both the in 110 which starts on Friday night and the 55 a great race – I look forward to seeing some of you on the trail.

Thanks also to Karen and her army of volunteers who give up their time to organise this great race so we can run safely.  Karen posted that she used 121 polly pockets in putting together her information packs for the volunteers.


Posted in Guess My Time | 1 Comment