What better way to spend the day hanging out with the parents than to go for a run with them. What a stoater, we started from Drymen and followed the west highland way over conic and had lunch in Balmaha! Simples. It was funny to think as my mum and I were doing hillsprints up conic that in the west highland way race I would have walked up almost the entire thing!
Run the Blades was a great event and great fun. I thought it would get a little tiring running passed all those turbines but in actual facs the rest of the route and views are so varied that this wasnt really an issue for me.
I got 6hrs 15 minutes for this which I was realy pleased with given it is the first ultra of the year and also I hadnt done a run longer than about 15km in the lead up to it. My old injuries seemed to have managed okay with this so onwards and upwards 🙂
So I am very intrigued about the Skyline events. I had thought to do the VK this year and then Ring of Steall next year. And so I decided to go and recci the route and seem just how plausible it would be. The lovely Katie Smith ame with me. Sadly I wont be able to do the event now due to timings and another trip to Catalonia! Life tough I know 🙂 However it was a great day, and quit challenging. I would recomened that anyone training for this does a lot of rough off track running and hill sprints.
This years race had a completly different set of challenges.
I was attacked by a dog a few weeks ago, a bull mastif and I ended up with a bite on the arm and a compressed pelvis. For some reason, I thought I would be okay at Glenmore; it was a little more challenging than I had anticipated.
The pain set in at around 12 miles, I managed until 76 in 18 hours and then I had to stop; everything was too painful. Turns out my body went on strike! I may have been ready to try for 104 miles, but my body needed to recover for longer. Saying this I am very proud of how long I managed to percevere for; this I owe a lot to my incredible support team. My partner in crime as always was awesome help, but this time I also had my mum and friends; Katie, Katie and Ross there. They were all amazing; wooping me every lap.
Two other people were also helping me out big style in the inspiration… my friend Andy and my Dad; Graham! Both of who ran their first ultra’s at this event. I am so incredibly proud of them both. I still can’t believe my crazy Dad as well; awesome!
So I didn’t quite do the do, however it was an awesome time, and I think under the circumstances I did well.
Now for the Tailwind! So I ran the whole event on this; at a mix of 2.5 scoops to 750ml; the max mix on the packet. I also ate a few other bits and pieces detailed as below (each lap is 4 miles)
Lap1-3: 750ml Tailwind in total
Lap 4-5: 750ml Tailwind in total
Lap 6-8: 750 ml Tailwind in total and a handful of BBQ flavoured niknaks
Lap 9-10: 750 ml Tailwind in total and a handful of salt n vinegar french fries (crisps)
Lap 11-13: 750ml Tailwind in total and a handful of grapes
Lap 14-15: 750ml Tailwind in total and a handful of spicy nik naks original flavour and coffee
Lap 16-18: 750ml Tailwind in total and a handful of grapes on lap 16, 2 spoons of mug shots lap 17 and same again on lap 18 and cofee.
In honesty I think I would have happily continued on the Tailwind for the duration, I dont know if I actually needed the food, but I wanted it, I felt a little hungry, which is amazing as apart from running the Devil (also on Tailwind) I have never felt ungry in an ultra; only sick.
Learning Notes; I hadnt realy thought about my caffeine intake at night to stay away, until it was too late and I drank coffee which was fine; so need to do some research onto caffeine in Tailwind. Also not sure about the fact that it doesnt have protein in it. For the latter stages of the race.
Thank you and please let me know if you have any questions. Special thank you to Lois Simpson, as I have nicked this pic that she took of me 🙂
Since the start of my ultra marathon journey I have felt that I am on a continual search for a solution to the scottish weather. I have fallen many times for various manufacture’s promises that their jacket is the answer! That they have found the balance between waterproofness, lightness and breathability! I have wanted to believe this sooooo badly. I have ran in some of the best known jackets on the market; trying products from rab, mountain equipment, omm, north face and marmotte to name a few, trying materials including both e-vent and gore tex however unfortunately the combination of face fabric to waterproof tech fabric and engineering has resulted in pieces that may be very good in certain conditions do not make the high demands that I set on them out on the mountain with those three factors that I cannot do without! I cannot sacrifice the waterproofness for the breathability, I don’t want to sacrifice either of those for lightness.
When your in the mountains you shouldn’t have to sacrifice anything, you should have the freedom to explore, to push yourself to the max and to literally be that adventure.
The guys at gear pest told me they had found something that worked! I wasn’t a hundred percent sure, but they are always spot on! I remember when I first met them in the middle of the heart of the mountains in Glen Affric, it was pitch black and freezing cold. These guys aren’t like other outdoor shops, were the majority of the information is from the catalogue or the website, these guys actually use this stuff too!
I usually never wear a piece of kit in an event without having worn it first. However I had essentially only worn this jacket on short stints to the local shop in the week before the great glen ultra marathon. It was risky to wear the gram comp q for the first time in the event, but I am glad I did. My choice essentially was based around that fact that I knew that every jacket that I had would annoy me due to specific reasons, I knew I had no jacket that would be perfect so why not give the new one a shot.
Apart from the first 2 hours of the event which it rained solidly, the rain was on and off for the entirety of the next 16 hours. The weather was so challenging that 15% percent of the field dropped out by halfway! After having worn it for those first two hours I came to the realisation as I was running, that I hadn’t actually noticed it yet. This might seem like a strange thing to say but I always have issues with something, its too tight across the back or too baggy on the arms, or I cant do the zip up over my chin!!! That last one is definitely something I could rant about for hours!! I mean who thinks its acceptable to engineer a jacket that a women cant zip up the whole face guard area on. Come on! Anyway, sorry I realised there was nothing actually initially annoying about the jacket, I thought this was funny, that no that I had realised that I was bound to come up with a million things. I didn’t!
The arms were great not too wide but at the same time free, the material moved over my skin in a flexible, light and comfortable way. The inner fabric felt soft and gentle against my arms, not plasticy or slimey like others. The sleeves didn’t flap around in the wind, or cause excess drag. However there was enough space so I didn’t have to wrestle to get the sleeve over my gps watch 🙂 .The front zipped over my face easily, and when I had the hood up it didn’t swamp my face but when I had it down it didnt flap around. The back of the jacket came down over the top of my bum so I didn’t get soggy shorts! In general it was amazing.
Even more amazingly than that was the versatility, when the sun came out a few hours in, I took the jacket off and was able to stuff it easily into my running vest, my running top underneath was actually dry! I wasn’t wet from the rain, nor was I a sweaty mess! I was genuinly dry! Gobsmacked! The weather was so changeable over the course of the next hours that I took the jacket on and off before ending up with just running in it until the later hours of the race. With the ease in the running of the zip and the elasticity of the arms, I didn’t feel like I was wrestling when I took it off and was able to keep a reasonable pace in my run, in these transitional points 🙂 something I realy like in a good piece of kit; it works for you, you don’t work for it. When I decided to keep it on, I just pulled the zip down low for venting and pushed the sleeves up. No problems.
At the Devil of the highlands the rain was on and off the whole way through, with me feeling sauna conditions one minute and balticness the next; I tried a different strategy with the jacket for this, pulling it on over my ultra running vest and wearing it over the top of everything. Due to the cut of the jacket this worked perfectly. I literally ran past various people stopping to take jackets on and off throughout the day, where I just had mine on top, I felt no discomfort and no constriction of movement. A definite highlight to this jacket.
Walking up that hill out of kinlochleven! Jacket over the top of running vest
Okay so some tech spec chat!
- Weight-255 grams (M)
- Material- Gore Tex active shell, active 3 layer, 30D ripstop weave (its tough too), hydrostatic head >25,000 mm (above UTMB minimums!)
- Great length on drop seat bum
- Good articulation on arms and thumb loops that are actually at the right length!
- Hood- 3 three bungees and a visor; great fit!
I have mostly worn this jacket running, but the next ports of call will be to get out on the bike with it and see how it is and also I am intrigued to see if this would be good for skimo in the winter.
Running through the lairig jacket on top of vest
This is a pretty exciting bit of kit, and I would challenge anyone that buys one not to fall in love with it too!!
I have always had problems eating and fueling in an ultra. I have now done quite a lot of research on the subject. I know what I am supposed to take in and when. But often i dont even feel like I can, I spend a lot of my time feeling sick and nausous, and trying to force myself to eat anyway! I have felt like this since the third ultra that I did, from the second one onwards I was running more and waking less so my body started behaving differently. My experience is based on the following events…
2015- devil of the highlands, the great glen ultra, the cateran 55, the fling
2014- jedburgh, glen ogle, glenmore 24, the devil of the higlands, clydestride, the west highland way, the fling
2013- tign nam bodach, glen ogle, glenmore 24, the devil of the highlands, clydstride, the fling, d33
2012- river ayr way, glen ogle
So in every event from 2013 to 2015 with the exception of the most recent devil of the highlands. I have had major battles with the feeling of sickness in the race, to the point of being sick. I have also suffered from issues surrounding going to the toilet in these events of a mixed nature! (tactful huh!) I have had odd balances of cramps and I have had sensations at the end of dizziness, collapse, faintness, and physical sickness. I was doing a lot of new research into diferent options about a month ago when I came across somthing I hadnt seen before :Tailwind.
I posted on the west highland way ultra facebook page about it and got some more info from some who had used it and read some blogs. Now I would like to point out that I have always been dubious of people talking about eating only race foods, such as gels and drinks and nothing solid in a race. But this product claims you dont need to. After quizzing tailwind uk in email and asking some closer ultra friends there opinions I decided I might as well get a 30 serving packet at £19. That was a huge price to pay if it didnt work, but if it did work it would be great.
It came in a few days realy quick, I got the naked flavour after someone elses suggestion that this might be the best flavour to try first. I packed my drop bags for the devil of the highlands footrace with a little plastic zip lock of this mix ready for me to pour into my bladder and top up at each checkpoint, but couldnt help chucking in some emergency jelly pouches and nutrigrain bars just in case!
I ran all the way from tyndrum to glencoe sipping nothing but tailwind and ate nothing, I felt good, I didnt fell sick at all, I actually felt a little hungry which was a new expeience for me, I grabbed a packet of salt n vinegar chipticks of the checkpoint table which I later ate up the little hill of doom that you always forget about between kingshouse and altnafeadh. Did the trick perfectly. When I got to Kinlochleven I still didnt feel sick! Phil came with me on the slog up the hill out of kinlochleven and I felt a little hungry in the stomach again! Amazing, but still no sickness. I ate a packet of grapes and a packet of salt n vinegar hoola hoops and ran to the end in Fort William.
I didnt feel nauseous once, I didnt feel like I was on an emotional rollercoaster once, at the end I felt fine. In fact I could have gone for a run! Baring in mind I had ran the great glen ultra just 3 weeks beforehand, I am incredibly happy with how this unfolded.
I will be using it at Glenmore 24 at the start of september. I am realy excited to see what I can do when Im am not battling this horrible sickness and emotional rollercoaster ride of up and downs.
I am not a tailwind tester and I paid for it myself, I would genuinly recomend it. If you have any questions please let me know I will answer them as clearly as I can. Ill do a follow up after Glenmore to see how it went with the distance
It has been winter now for 2 months, and the adventures have been coming in thick and fast. I have been doing a lot of skiing, telemarking and winter mountaineering and it has been great to say the least! I have been working with athletes from glasgow ski racing and FAST, I’ve been exploring les portes du soleil, the chamonix valley and doing some cpd in the highlands!
It has been great, but I have noticed something surprising; their is a real gap in the technical clothing market for women like myself. You probably know exactly what I am talking about? Before I went to Fort William for Winter Mountaineering I know I was on dire need of some kit update, I had worn a lot of stuff out and needed a bit of an overhaul for technical garments. I was looking for a good pair of technical women’s winter trousers. Something to keep the weather off, something to be comfortable when making those big transitions when your post holing to the hip and something that was going to have some re reinforcement for the old crampons. I didn’t think this seemed like a big ask really, after all I live in a country famous for it’s changeable weather conditions, and famous for its technical mixed terrain pitches. Unfortunately after visiting some of the biggest and most well known outdoor shops in the country I found nothing. Nothing that I wouldn’t describe as a summer trouser, nothing with a reinforced instep for crampon use. Nothing that would do. I tried on lots and lots of mens winter trousers, but the cut was completely wrong, they either didn’t offer the range of movement for my hips or they were so big the material would rush past and would be a definite crampon catching nightmare.
Then finally I spoke to the guys at Gear Pest and they suggested the Haglofs Skarn Q Winter Pant. They are an internet based company that make it so easy for you, they do free delivery and free returns, so if you aren’t sure of the size you could order and try it on and then send back for a different size if you needed to and they give good honest advice.
I have worn the skarns on 9 different hill days now and I adore them. Looks wise they are perfect, they sit well and in peacock blue they are an awesome colour (they offer black as well). I loved getting to step out in something other than the usual khakis, olives and browns offered up by most outdoor shops. Technically they were very high performing as well. Six of the days I was out mountaineering, Two days I spent ski touring an one day I spent tele touring!
I think I pushed them to the max and at no point was I disappointed. Mountaineering wise they gave me great range of movement, they protected my knees well from the cold when on the snow to build snow bollards, they were hard wearing enough for me to south african abseil with them. The instep reforcement is pretty hardcore and due to there slim fit and flexible fabric they were very comfortable under the hard shell when the weather was at its worst.
Due to the gaitor style on them and the knee length zip I managed to use them with my ski touring boots and my telemark boots and they performed realy well in high winds, ensuring I was at the optimal temperature all day.
I think I have defintly used this trouser for more than its intended design however it is such a great all rounder in the winter its hard not too. Thanks so much to the guys at gear pest for their help on this one.
So the clue is in the title! And unfortunately I did not get to the end! I thought the end was going to be glen or but I somehow managed to get to kinlochleven. This was the hardest challenge since last years fling falls! I am not going to give a blow by blow on this one! More a list of things I have learnt!
1. The beginning is daunting, everyone looks so proffesional. Don’t fall into the fear trap!
Everyone set off so fast I had to keep up with them, I thought I was at the back after 10 minutes and in fact I was going too fast! I was out of breath but I didn’t dwell on it because I thought it was nervous! It is better to go to slow in the beginning and have the options to speed up than set off to fast nd get stuck in the head funk!
2. Listen to your support crew! No,realy realy listen! They are the only people that actually know what is going on!
If they tell you to slow down it is because you are going to fast!!!!!!!!!!! So slow down!
3. If you can’t eat your food mentally, eat it anyway! If you can’t eat it physically then come up with specific things you want!
4. Sweat is great when it’s colder but in the heat eat savoury! Tuna pieces are the answer!
5. Slow down!
6. Don’t be a fun sponge! Misery combined with lack of food equals twirling dispair! Don’t do it! Downers are for losers! It’s not getting there that counts it’s the size of your smile when you arrive! And yes you can quote me on it!
7. Always eat before a rest, you will have no energy when you need to start again if you do not!
8. Zero is the answer to the cramps!
9. Everything comes down to two questions, did you go at an appropriate pace and did you eat enough and often enough. My answer to both was no.
Not rocket science! Next year I will be able to answer yes to both questions! This year I take my 83 miles and the fight that I put down for it and bank the experience!
Anyway that was 38 days ago. In 3 days I run the devil of the highlands. My aim is to run it we’ll not necessarily to run it fast! I will also be looking for my va va voom out there as I seem to have left it behind on the last one!
The sky isn’t the limit, after all there are footprints on the moon!