Tuesday, 19 March 2013

D33 (felt like a) Sprint Race

Don't tell the physio... 

...but a week back I started to run to Glasgow from Edinburgh with my pal Ally MacLeod who is training for the Marathon de Sables. My physio said that I wasn't to run two days in a row so I didn't. Since I hadn't run on the Thursday, the Friday was mine to play with :) 

Obviously the Scottish winter weather provided similar conditions to what Ally will experience in the desert. We made it to Ratho before our first coffee stop and rain shelter. Later during our canal run Ally showed me the sights of Linlithgow where I got my second hot drink break. It was cold, the canal was muddier than I expected and we were repeatedly passed by a suspicious looking man with VERY short shorts riding a bicycle. We decided to stop at Falkirk before our chat got too bad and instead rode the train home sharing chocolate bars. And that, my friends, is how athletes prepare for important upcoming races. 

Ratho coffee stop

Ally's fundraising for SANDS; a charity providing support to parents and families affected by stillbirth and crucially fund research into the causes of stillbirth and neonatal deaths. To visit Ally’s MDS page visit: http://www.allymacleodsahararun.co.uk or to visit Ally’s Just Giving page go to: http://www.justgiving.com/ALASDAIR-MACLEOD

D33 - (it felt like a) Sprint Race 

This was my third year running the D33. Unlike my previous two years I would see more of Aberdeen than the 16.5 miles of the course and the Duthie Park carpark and I would also have no moral support from Scott. Not because he's sick of waiting in the cold for me to finish running but because he's joined the dark side and is competing too. I actually only entered so that I could run with him and support him in his first ultra. Turns out that he doesn't want me to run with him. In that case, it's a race Scott. Last one in pays the hotel bill. And I plan on ordering room service. 

So we drive up from Forfar the morning of the race, do a bit of bare knuckle fighting for a carpark space and then spend most of the preparation time finding a weather forecast without snow. I find one and opt for the no jacket approach. I'm still fluffing about with Vaseline in the car while George rallies the runners and tells some pre-race jokes. I suspect that in true Antonia tradition, I am last on the start line and very shortly afterwards we are all jogging across the start line giggling. Apologies to the frontrunners; you may have been more than jogging but I couldn't see you to tell. 

I spent an obligatory half minute with Scott and then trot on telling him that if he sees ice, then he'll know he's got me beat. Read Marcothon: Aye, Why Not? if you want to find out how embarrassingly pathetic I am at running walking on ice. A hello to Carol Martin, a cheeky chat with chatty Alan and then I find myself in a happy wee rhythm only to see that I'm gaining on Lorna MacMillan. Now, I am working on having more confidence on these shorter ultras and starting a bit faster but we are three miles in (well assuming that that sign pointing to Duthie Park with the number three is correct) and Lorna's a good, well-paced runner. Too late though because I've slapped her arse and am chatting to her, Keziah and Elspbeth. And we are gibbering away like we're around a table with bottles of wine and slap the pavement together until the first checkpoint. 

Due to the physio's orders of no back-to-back runs and some weeks of no running I have become well acquainted with the stair trainer at the gym. Mostly because I hate cycling and I can't use the cross-trainers without feeling like a tit. I am also very good at spending hours walking around Edinburgh drinking takeaway coffees and claiming that I'm spending 'time on my feet.' So I'm kind of wondering whether I should enquire about the possibility of a cafe cart at the checkpoint next year? Surely that still qualifies as 'no frills.' I don't have a drop bag (it would be hard to keep a mocha upright and warm in one anyway) so I carry on on my own.  

I push on feeling strong and not wanting to conserve as much as usual. Then I catch Terry Addison WALKING up an incline. Busted. So we blether away for miles, both in much better moods than we were in the West Highland Way Race! Ron Milne and his partner Liz are out running on the course – they’ve supported me in the last few years and are currently building up their mileage for the Edinburgh Marathon. I'm looking out for the leaders because until you've seen them coming towards you, you've still got a while to go until the halfway mark. Last year I ran 4:38 and although my build up might not be ideal I’d still like to try and beat that time by a minute or two. With about a mile to go until the turnaround we discuss that that’s unlikely to happen this year at this pace so I move it up a notch, twist around the half-way cone and start on my way back. 

After sourcing a banana from my backpack I snatch a look at my oversized blue watch. I think that it says 24. Oh no, if I turn around at 2 hours 24 minutes and run back at the same pace then I will be slower than my first year running the event (4:44). Although I have always ran well in the D33 there’s something in me that does not want to run slower than two years ago. So I just speed up. I’ve probably sped up too fast. Shall I just give it up and run with Scott? I’ve just passed him as he heads towards the halfway mark and he’s running well. NO, I must try run faster. I catch David Simpson who I have a bit of friendly rivalry with; I just caught him at the end of the D33 last year but didn’t quite catch him at Speyside. He pushes me on for a while and we catch various runners. I just keep pushing. No Garmin, no idea of pace, just run strong and don’t stop. It was a risk to take off from the halfway mark like this and I suspected that I’d pay for it later. I’ve even eaten a gel which proves how serious I was about this running fast business!! 

Scott turning heads

Past the ¾ checkpoint. Across a road and a honk from Ron and Liz. The only way to not slow down is to keep catching people. I come up behind Karl Zeiner who looks to be running very smoothly so I am surprised to be catching him. More straight flat path. Why am I running this? I don’t like flat runs or short runs. Serves me right for chatting so much in the first half, I’m now having to sprint. Everyone saying their congrats as I run past hoping for my sub 4:38 and I’m ready to beat myself up big time if I fail to make 4:44. This run was all about pushing myself and I really felt that I’d let myself down. GO FASTER. Hands too cold to unbuckle my backpack. Choke on my flapjack. FASTER. There’s that three mile sign. I need someone to chase. I’m not even interested in beating them, I just want to make sure that I’m not slowing down. Purple vest ahead. It’s Norry. He’s happy and running well. Cemetery. I think that’s next to the park. I’m going to make it. Another runner ahead. Go faster mate, I don’t actually want to beat you I just want you to pace me in. But I pass him, then see the park gates and throw my arms up in the air to indicate to the guy that we’re nearly there. I am so embarrassing. 

Power to the finish. My number is wet and curled up upon itself so I am trying to sprint but also trying to show my number. On Thursday night I joined the Hunters Bog Trotters for a speed session in the Meadows. I didn’t know anyone or really understand how the speed thing works so I just followed the others and then jogged home. Another man was also jogging home from the session and asked if I had asthma. Apparently that’s how bad I sounded when I was running. Heavy breathing and coughing all over the show. I get my hug from George and Karen. Did I enjoy the race? Of course, it’s always brilliant! 

The guy behind me comes in and I apologise for being a tit at the park gates. I ask what the time is and don’t quite believe him when he says we ran 4:23. That’s a 15 minute pb. I’m pleased I didn’t know my time in that second half else I would have slowed down once I realised that I was going to beat last years’ time! I’m relieved when the results come out and the time is confirmed because I was not so sure that it was true…   

I’m really cold and try to put my dry kit on which is actually tomorrow’s running kit which means I’m going to need to dry that somehow tonight… I really appreciate all the times that I have had support crews over the years! They would have got my shoes from the boot and dried me with a towel. I’m out to see Ian Minty finish in just a t-shirt. Hardcore. Scott sneaks in finishing his first ultra in 5:28. The D33 is a tough one for your first I think because it’s so flat and runnable. George tells me that there’s just a few years and it’ll all be tarmacked. While I wouldn’t like that, I did like the words ‘future 100 miler’ that were thrown into that conversation… 

Ian Minty finishing
Scott finishing
Unfortunately, we didn’t make it to Stonehaven for the evening celebrations. Instead we went for a meal, a few drinks and then pumped up the heating in the hotel room whilst enjoying some Caramac. To be young and wild huh?! 

Cateran Trail Plod

On Sunday morning Scott and I ate half of the hotel breakfast buffet each and heading back South where I was to do a recovery plod/walk on part of the Cateran Trail. I was quite excited, having never been on the trail before and was armed with pages of route instructions from the Walk Highlands website. So I start off lycra-clad in a small town and spend the first ten minutes walking up a hill. Then I go the wrong way, my sock falls down inside my shoe and I use a gorse bush as a bathroom. I’m actually in a good mood despite this though; walking is good and I’ve gone the wrong way because I cannot see the wind turbines I’m meant to be aiming for due to my poor eyesight and the mist.  I am so adventurous to be running in mist. And it’s not the socks fault that they have fallen down, it’s the shoes fault because they are too big. Although it’s not really the shoes fault because they are the smallest size available, it’s actually the fault of my feet for being so small. Therefore genetics. Blame the parents. You might gather that I am running alone hence the ramblings. Anyway I get back on track and plod along deciding that running alone, in the cold, on an isolated trail after running 33 miles the day before is about the best thing in the world. I’m not sure what Park Inn put in their coffee but it’s definitely doing the mind wonders. 

Further along I find that the track is quite wet only to discover that I’m running in a creek. Then I slip on a rock trying to exit said creek and fall over. I figure that now is a good time for cross-training and flail about in the shallow water imitating swimming actions in an attempt to retrieve my instructions before the water seeps into the snap lock bag and I get lost. Then it’s quickly up as  I don’t want the rolled ankle to think anything’s happened to it. I play it cool walking up a boggy hill and then slightly less cool when there are cows at the top. I do not want to die wearing this stupid purple fleece headband. Killed by cows.

I can’t really remember the rest, I just plodded along in my thoughts. Keziah has brought my back some Peanut Slabs from New Zealand and when I get to the car I am going to eat one. I call Scott to tell him that I’ll be another hour because I am moving quite slow. I plan a trip to a big supermarket to keep the mood high. Pastry; I want to buy things wrapped in pastry.

The Cateran Trail was great and I would love to do Karen’s race there. Fortunately/unfortunately, the World 24 Hour Championships are in Holland this May so I’ll have to put it on the list for next year.

Thank You

Huge thanks to George, Karen  and all the friendly marshals and helpers who stood out in the cold making sure that we all had a good time and ate our jam sandwiches nicely. I can’t beat this years’ time but I can still see myself entering again next year.


  1. Awesome!!!
    Glad I'm not scrubbing those tiny shoes anymore.

  2. Thanks for another great read.

    Looking good for the World Champs, although I suspect I will enjoy it more than you.

    Who is this Scott bloke that you keep mentioning?


Boston Marathon & London Marathon 2018

The Big Reveal W alking up Arthur's Seat in September 2017, I told Scott I had something to tell him. After initially freaking out an...