Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Marcothon = FAIL

I've failed at the Marcothon this year - a bout of gastric flu and a late night shopping trip to Decathlon meant that I didn't run on Sunday or Tuesday. I reckon one of them is excusable, but I really should have gone out for a run when I had a sore tummy. I'm going to try and only miss the two days though as I'm quite enjoying getting out every day, so hopefully I'll run every day from now until the 31st. I ran for each of the first eighteen days of December so at least I completed a half-Marcothon.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Icebugs and headtorches

If I'm honest the novelty of running on frozen water is starting to wear off. At least my least worn pair of trainers have been getting plenty of action. About 9 years ago I was persuaded by a Runners' World article to buy an expensive pair of Swedish trainers - Icebugs - which as trainers go are not that great. They are heavy, spongy, ill-fitting and they hurt my big toe, but they have something that has made them a bit useful over the past few weeks - little metal spikes that stick out of the outsole and give quite good grip on ice. They are pretty much Volvos for your feet.

Last weekend I went for my first run on the West Highland Way for a long time. I left the car at Drymen and ran to Milngavie to meet Dave (who ran the West Highland Way last year in a little over 20 hours), then we ran back together to Drymen before Dave headed on up to Rowardennan. What should be the easiest section of the WHW, along the old railway past Dumgoyne, was really hard going - tiptoeing along a ridge of hard snow and ice, and every so often one of your feet would hit the slush and fly away from underneath you so you'd lose all momentum. At least we weren't the only folk daft enough to be out in the less than perfect underfoot conditions - we bumped into Debbie M-C and Sharon Law on the route.

The sun came up as I passed Carbeth

So I did 24 miles, about 16 of which were on ice and slush, and I was done in when I finished but it was good to get out for a long run and chat with Dave.

I've run all seventeen days of December so far so my Marcothon is still alive. The last few days have been a bit difficult and I've been very close to deciding to quit before heading out at 10.30pm with a headtorch on to do the minimum 3 miles on icy farm roads. When I really can't be bothered, I do an out and back from the house, with the first mile and a half an easy downhill - by the time I get to the bottom I've got to turn round and get home and then that's me done. I'm past the half-Marcothon now so hopefully the run in will get easier.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Early morning run round Kings' Park

Yesterday was day 7 of the Marcothon and last night when I got home from work having run back from the station via Tesco to pick up some essentials, I was feeling worn out. I had a couple of niggling pains in different parts of my legs and reckoned I could probably do with a rest day. Instead, I figured that if I went for an early morning run today then I could do tomorrow's run in the evening and have the best part of 36 hours of rest in between. I had seen on the weather forecast that today was being to a beautiful clear day so I went for a run round a snow covered Kings' Park in Stirling as the sun was coming up.

It was a lovely 6km run on hard packed snow, though it was a bit parky at minus 10. At the end of it I felt motivated and inspired by running and was looking forward to the running every day for the rest of the month, rather than worrying about it.

So over the first week of the Marcothon I've done about 34 miles - not as much as some of the other Marcathletes (or is it Marcothoners?) out there, but a decent week of running for me.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Snow on Sauchie Craigs

I went for a very nice 9 mile run today along the road past North Third Reservoir and back home along the top of Sauchie Craigs. North Third Reservoir is a fantastic little place near Stirling that is not that well known but has some really nice footpaths for running on, and great views of the Southern Highlands. If you're ever in the Stirling area it is worth searching it out and going for a jog.

We've got the best part of a foot of snow but the first 5 miles of the run was along a path that plenty of people have used recently so there was a decent trail through the snow, then along a wee road that had a nice firm covering of snow on it.

Better to run on than tarmac

Then I left the road and climbed up on to Lewis Hill and along the top of the Craigs. The views were wonderful but the snow was deep so I wasn't breaking any records. From the few footprints in the snow on the path and the length of the stride, it looked like only some runners had been this way in the few days since the heavy snow fell. I reached the trig point at the top of Lewis Hill where there was about 18 inches of snow but it wasn't too bad following the trail left by the last people here.
The path along the crags - still number 1 in my top 5 paths for running despite the snow

The kilometre or so along the top of the Craigs, usually along a grassy, winding, gently descending path that is a joy to run on, took about 8 or 9 minutes through the snow rather than a more typical 4 or 5 minutes. At the end of the Craigs the rocky path drops steeply into Windy Yet Glen, and it was great to be able to throw myself down this section without having to worry about twisting my ankle on one of the melon sized rocks that litter the path - they were well buried and out of reach.

I soon joined the forest tracks and farm tracks on the back of the hill and had an easy run back home along some nice trails. I was happy to get home after 9 miles without really feeling tired, and am hoping to do something a bit longer next weekend.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Lovely clean shoes and the Marcothon

At last I'm doing a bit of running after having colds and coughs for what felt like months. I've been doing pretty light mileage, about 25 miles per week, for the last two weeks and the longest run so far has been 8 hilly miles, but over the last few days I've started to feel like a runner again.

We've had snow here since last Saturday and I've been wearing my Mizuno Wave Harriers - shoes that normally only get taken out when I am going for a run through some clarty forest or muddy farmland, so last Saturday morning they were covered in dried mud or worse. 30+ miles of running in the snow has transformed them into the cleanest shoes I own and I'm very pleased because they are excellent.

I've been reading some of the WHW race related blogs and came across a few mentions of the Marcothon. It sounds like a great thing to aim for in the run up to Christmas so I'm going to do my best to run at least 3 miles each and every day of December. Fours days in and it's going okay - getting out tonight was a bit of a drag but once I was out in the snow with my £7 ebay headtorch I was glad to be running.

I need to get some photos on this blog so hopefully I'll remember to take my camera with me on tomorrow's three mile epic. I might go mad and do four miles.