Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Killin 10k, Personal Best all taped up

On Saturday 25th August Tay Fitness held their 2nd Killin 10km, along with a 1km fun run.  I ran the 10k while my family and friends walked the 1km fun run dressed as the Hungry Caterpillar!  Before I dive into the pre race deliberation and race discussion first I'll introduce the some pictures of the start and the Hungry Caterpillar to provide lighten ones mood!

 First up here's pre race photo of the Falls of Dochart at the westerly end of Killin where the race starts, the falls is a big tourist spot so I was lucky to be up before they all arrived!

After registration we assembled at the start and while I was warming up friends and family assembled the Hungry Caterpillar.  Ellen (middle of shot) and Gwen (right and front) are seen here holding up the head that had been beautifully created by Julia (wife) and Caitlin (eldest daughter).

The fact that I was warming up for the 10k race was both a relief and nerve racking as my prep for the race had been far from ideal.  Ever since the Callander Highland Games Hill Race back on the 29th of July I'd been nursing along Plantar Fasciitis in both feet, with my left feet being the most uncomfortable.  The injury had been getting better till I ran a quick half marathon tempo run on the 8th of August and the last three miles discomfort came back and hasn't fully healed since.  To make things worse in a 6mile tempo run on Wednesday before the race I had pulled my right calf, now I had two sets of injuries to worry about!

I rested up after the Wednesday tempo run but both my Plantar Fascia and calf strain hadn't settle on the Friday so I arranged a visit with Mari Menzies our local physio.  Mari didn't think the strain was anything to worry about, and curiously enough for the first time in three days it hadn't started to ease off by the time I sat down in her office.  The Plantar Fascia was a different issue though, Mari diagnosed the issue as Plantar Fasciitis so my own guess was on the money.  Keeping on running by easing off on distances and pace was also something I had done, save for the tempo run, so again I was doing most of the right things...  Except I had a race planned for the next day, and possible marathon a week later!

Mari suggested tapping up my feet to reduce the amount of stretch that the Plantar Fascia would undergo when running to avoid tearing it further and making the injury worse.  First up we tried stiff white tape that largely immobilised my arch and I tried a short run up and down on the pavement outside and I was profoundly shocked by how awful it felt.

You take for granted how your foot gracefully deforms on landing as you load it up, you don't realise it just how significant this is until you immobilise it.  I ran with just my left foot taped up and my right foot sockless in the shoe and my left foot felt painful and contorted while my right felt relaxed, natural and dare I say it sensual.  I loved how my right foot and hated how my foot felt.

It was pretty clear that I just wouldn't enjoy running 100m taped up like this let alone a whole 10km race.  I returned to Mari with the decision that I'd rather not run the race than be taped up like that.  Mari had a fall back option - Elasticated Blue Kt Tape, the type that was spotted by many Olympic Athlete in London, this wouldn't provide the level of protection that the stiff tape would but it might provide a little support.  I tried it out and found that this minimal level of support was comfortable on both feet - I still felt the natural foot motion that has become so ingrained since running in minimal footwear.  Below is photo after the race of the tapping on my feet.

Less support means less protection though so it was a case of weighing up the risk of setting back the healing process or worse making the the injury more serious against putting away a good time.  After my quick tempo run on Wednesday I knew I was in the shape to set a personal best, and estimated than a sub 40 minute 10k was well within my grasp (my previous PB was 40:32 set last spring at the Trossachs 10k in Aberfoyle).  Actually one of the strong motivations for me doing the race was to find out just whether I could predict performance based on training HR and pace, the scientist in me wanted to conduct the experiment.   In the end it was the scientific geek in me that was the greater motivation over the ego of setting a PB, it was time to do the experiment of 1.

My plan for the race was run a steady race, enough to set a PB, no getting caught up racing others.  A 40minute 10km make the pacing pretty easy - as long as I averaged less than 4 minutes between the 1km markers I was going to make it in sub 40m.  I knew I was pushing my luck with my injury so followed Mari's advice of doing a progressive warming - starting with a walk, then slow jog then steadily working up towards race pace.  This approach was intended to warm my muscles, tendons and muscle fascia as well as stretch then in prep for the race ahead so I wouldn't sudden stretch the plantar fascia with a quick start.

The race started with me just a few feet behind the start line, I pressed my HR monitor watch right away but after about 10 seconds looked down to see that it hadn't started, oops.   A firm press of the start button set it going, but it now meant that I had no absolute time to work from.  The first km is gently downhill along Killin high street and the downhill lead to a time on my watch for first km of just 3:25, oops that was a bit fast.  My HR monitor reading of 177 already too which was rather alarming, this was higher than my normal lactate threshold HR of 175-176,  to hit so quickly was unsettling.  My breathing was easy though and my legs and feet felt fine so I just worked on keeping things steady.

By the 2nd km marker the field was now starting to thin out with me in around 11th and was now felt into step with a two other runners who looked to be sticking to a similar pace, still comfortable sub 40min so I was happy.  The next few km I tagged along just behind the two other runners but it was clear that were breathing was much more laboured - two breaths for one of mine and loud.  I couldn't help but feel that they were pushing too hard and wondered about suggesting that they might do better by easing off a little.  I didn't need to though after them setting the pace for 3km we hit a small gradient and they suddenly weren't going at my pace any more and I passed.  I hadn't pushed on, my HR was still bobbing up around 177 to 180 so I think it was simply a case of them going to hard and finally succumbing to the pace rather than me pushing on.

By the 5km I over took a couple more runners that had been 50m ahead, again I was keeping my pace steady, despite the more hilly terrain I was still keeping my km times ticking by around the 4min per km pace.  My HR was still very high - I've never run a race and seen such a steady high HR, I felt comfortable though.  At the around the 5 1/2km mark the route hits it's first proper hill and this even reduced a runner around a 100m ahead to walking.  I paced the hill based on my HR, not letting it exceed 180, so I took it relatively comfortably, but now was aware that fatigue was starting to set in and breathing was a little harder.  The hill finally ended at the turn around point and I was hoping for a nice quick descent but the route took a left junction stayed high on the north side of the valley.  The small road was on average downhill but interrupted by many undulations that it still felt pretty hilly.

At the 7km mark I was slowly closing the gap with the runners ahead and on checking my watch at the km marker was surprised to be asked what pace we were on!  I hadn't noticed a runner approaching my from behind and his breathing was no heavier than mine, a stark contrast with all the runners I had past.  We chatted for a km but never did I realize that he was in fact my daughter Caitlin's piano teacher, I only found out when he introduced himself at the prize giving later!  As quickly as our conversation had started it finished when I slowed on hitting a short uphill trying to keep my effort level constant Robin just kept the pace up and shot off to catch the runners ahead.

I was only competing against the clock and knew that a PB and sub 40min time was within my grasp as long as I didn't screw up, the km's kept ticking by and each time I was still within my goal of 4min/km. The last km came and on entering Killin village allowed my pace to quicken a little with my HR going up above 180.

Robin had caught and passed the two runners ahead and I was steadily catching them too so it looked possible that I'd be able to the same if I went all out.   I didn't through caution to the wind though, the spectre of making my Plantar Fascia injury getting worse kept me in check, I had a job to do, no heroics were required, just doing what my current level of fitness was perfectly capable of.  By the finishing straight I was just 5m behind the 7th placed runner and even without an all out sprint finish closing fast.  I crossed the line with the clock at 39:33.

I was really pleased to do what I had set out to do, and to have completed it in such a controlled, almost clinical fashion - my training had pointed to being in the best shape of my adult life and now I had a PB by a minute to cement it.  I was also relieved to be still moving comfortable, my Plantar Fascia had held up well and my calf strain hadn't bothered me at all. 

I chilled out at the finish with other runners, friends and my family enjoying the family and having taken off my Trailroc's the lovely cool feeling of walking barefoot on damp grass field.  We bundled up the Hungry Catepillar and headed to the prize giving. Turns out that I was 8th placed overall and 2nd male vet, curiously though my time was listed as 39:36 so it looks like either the finish clock was wrong or the time records.  Either way I was still comfortably under 40 minutes for the first time ;-)

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Inov-8 Trailroc 245 : Design Fault -> Blister

After yesterday's initial run in my new Inov-8 Trailroc 245's I ended up with a bloodied blister at the top of fourth toe on my left foot.

Originally I had thought it was a simple case of the upper folding a bit too harshly and rubbing on the top of my foot.

However, the upper is really soft and smooth on the inside so this didn't quite seem a good fit for the cause so in the evening I had a good feel on the inside of the shoe for any seems or possible friction points.  The culprit as a thin sheet of hard plastic used to reinforce the area of the upper where the laces go through the lace holes.  These bits of plastic covered by a black material which in theory should protect the foot from coming into contact with the plastic.

I removed the laced, pushed the tongue back and bent the upper back to show the reinforcement with the black material that covers the hard plastic plastic. Both the hard plastic and material cover are stitched to the upper along one seam at the top next to the opening. 

Zooming into the problem corner of the back material you can see a small red patch... It's my blood!

The plastic and black material are glued together but the two of them are not glued to the upper so can be bent back.  Bending them back reveals the white plastic and culprit of my blister.

Except it's not just one blister, while only me left foot ended up bloodied, it turns out that my right foot has a blister in exactly the same place (top of the 4th toe) that hadn't burst and hadn't bothered me too much during the run.

Clearly this is a design or manufacturing fault with the shoe, personally it think it's more likely a design fault that for some perplexing reason didn't get spotted/corrected during development.

This issue leaves me with an interesting problem - I love the light weight, good balance of ground feel and protection, the sensible foot shaped last, low heel drop, the grip, the vast majority of the upper is just excellent, but... this blister problem while not a deal breaker yet isn't a good one to deal with on an expensive new shoe.

I'm not one adverse to shoe surgery, my super wide feet normally require some form of modification of shoes to accommodate them, so two solutions might be to:
  1. Trim the plastic area back so that it's not over my metatarsal heads and where my feet bend the most.  Any trimming would have to make sure that plastic remains nicely curved with no new corners.
  2. Glue the plastic and black material cover directly to the upper to avoid any chance that the black material would ride up over the plastic.
Some feedback from Inov-8 would be useful as well, they screwed up on what might seem to be a small detail, but it's problem that others are going to come across, they need to fix it - you just can't require minimalist runners to go with socks just to compensate with flaws in the design of the shoe.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Review of Inov-8 Trailroc 245 : First Blood

This is a quick first review of my latest purchase - long awaited Inov-8 Trailroc 245's.  I pre-ordered them from online from Swaledale Outdoors Shop for just under £95, and they arrive on Monday 20th August just one working day after they first arrived in the shop.  Thumbs up for prompt dispatch and competitive pricing against other retailers,  but Ouch... these shoes are Expensive.

I first learned of the new Trailroc line back in Autumn 2011, and even before that was waiting, waiting for Inov-8 to make a lightweight low drop trail shoe with an Anatomial Last.  While my Roclite's 295's have been a dependable workhorse for my ultra and long distance training, for several years all I really wanted was a shoe like the Trailroc, and here they finally were in my house and ready to put on my feet!

The insoles nicely show the Anatomical Last - the big toe goes nearly straight forward and doesn't pull in the big toe like the vast majority of conventional trainers do with their fashion inspired pointy foot lasts.  The width across the forefoot/metatarsal heads is around 100mm and stays pretty wide though to the mid foot so plenty of room for toe splay and those with wide mid-foot like me.  The shape of the Last is quite similar to my Vivobarefoot Neo Trails so is keeping good company.

As important as the Last, the grip had to deliver as good as my trusty Roclite's, first impression is of a good set of lugs that should handle trails and roads well.  The new sole design provides lugs everywhere except a small section under the inside arch, this fixes a flaw in the Roclite which misses lugs under the arch which leads to them collapsing more under load at mid-stance.  This small design change might help fix a bout of Plantar Fasciitis that has plagued my running over the last two weeks.

With my feet in the shoes the upper felt very comfortable, the Anatomical Last provided ample room for my big through to little toes, and even my very wide mid-foot is accommodated without any discomfort.  Finding a shoe that doesn't cause discomfort on the outside of my mid-foot is very very rare, almost all my shoes I have to modify in some way so this was a great step forward.

Unfortunately the fit isn't perfect though, just in front of my heel on the inside the instep just cuts in too quickly and it puts pressure on the front of my heel where the Plantar Fascia heads out towards the big toe.  I can't yet work out whether this is down to the design of the last just being too aggressive with cutting in around the heel or a manufacturing tolerance/error issue.  For someone with a current Plantar Facia problem in both feet this wasn't good news.

I did a little plastic surgery on the inside of the shoe, putting in a small amount of silicon bath sealant smoothed to make the connection between the upper and mid-sole a little more gentle.  This helped ease the pressure point enough for me to head out for a 6 mile loop.

My Plantar Fascia was a little uncomfortable during the first mile, especially around the pressure point but after that my tendons and muscles all warmed enough so that I didn't have any further issues.

The shoes felt firm underfoot with good grip on the mixture of wet and dry roads and stony trails that the run took in.  Grip is better than my Vivobarefoot but not better than the sticky rubber on my Roclite 295's.  I'm left wishing that Inov-8 would have stuck to sticky rubber all over for the sole, since I have a pretty descent mid-foot running form I don't see big issues with wear even with Sticky rubber on the 295's.

The so called Meta-Craddle works well to hold your feet in place, and the ride is firm but not hard.  There is enough protection from sharp stones to not worry about misplaced landing, something I still have to care of when wearing my Vivobarefoot.  Personally I still find the 3mm heel drop more than I need though, and when deliberately heel striking found a little bit of mushy feeling that I so dislike from the heel of the Roclite's.  The ride feels much lower than the Roclite's which fixes another of my complaints of the Roclite's - this will afford much more confidence when tackling technical off trail conditions such as when running on the open hill across tussocks and heather.

The modest sole provides good ground feel - so work well for both proprioception and balance, I even felt confident enough to stand on one foot and take a photo of the raised foot.  The above photo should give you an idea of the type of stony trail I was one - nothing too technical, but a good first workout.

I ran without socks as this is how I run with my Vivobarefoot and the inside of the upper has very few seams so felt confident that it'd be fine without socks...

However, within two miles the top of my left foot was beginning to get irritated by a fold in the upper during toe off.  My right foot was fine though, I stopped a couple of times during the run to try and adjust the position of the fold when the heel is lifted off the ground but to no avail, the fold stuck in same position.  At the end of my run I took a photo of the shoes with my feels off the ground simulating how the shoe bends during toe off, this photo illustrates quite nicely how fold on my left foot (on the right in the photo) is a sharp diagonal while the right foot upper folds more evenly.

I took my shoes off to find the slightly bloody blister about 4mm across, with the skin peeled back.  Nice, thanks Trailroc's.

This is my first blister this year.  All the training I did for and racing the Highland Fling, the Lochalsh Dirty 30, three mountainous training runs over 26 miles and no blisters... yet one 6 mile run I'm rewarded with my first blister of 2012!

Early verdict:

So after 6 miles what is my verdict...
  • The grip is great
  • The balance between ground feel and protection from stony trails is about perfect - one feels confident and sure footed
  • The Antomical Last is very very welcome and almost perfect, just the heel area is too tight on the inside for my feet to consider them perfect.  I'm still exploring ways of tweaking the insole shape around the front inside of the heel to avoid the pressure point.  The pressure point didn't seem to cause problems when running though so perhaps it won't be a big deal, only more mileage will answer this one.
  • The Upper is nice and breathable and very comfortable except at toe off when the hold in the upper caused problems in one of my feet.
  • The weight is modest at ~200g for my size 6.5's, about 50g's lighter than my Roclite 295's.  I'd still like a lighter shoe, but given the balance between protection and weight I think it's a pretty good trade off.
Overall I like the shoe alot, it's fits my needs and preferences better than Roclite 295's and will likely replace it as my go to shoe for the bulk of my mileage.  There are flaws though - I really wanted to be able to get sockless as I prefer the better feel and lack of restriction that it offers, and the shape around the heel needs to be tweaked, I'm sure others will hit up against this pressure point too.

6 miles is still too early days for a full verdict though, it sure is promising shoe.  I provide more details on how I get on over the next few weeks.

Ben Gulipen Madness!

On Sunday 19th August Skiddadle ran the inaugural Ben Guilipen MTB Madness! race, and rather race I helped Marshal for the event.  As I wasn't racing on the bike I decided to head up Ben Guilipen for a hill run in the morning before the event.  A gorgeous morning it was too!

A mile and half into the run I started to climb the narrow path up past the Mollands estate and got a great view looking north though the flowers towards Ben Ledi and the crags, with morning mist just burning off Callander

Another couple of miles later I exit the forest and am rewarded with a great view north towards Ben Ledi.

Further on and near the summit of Ben Gulipen one gets a view south of quite different character, the Gargunnock hills standing proud from the valley mist.

Looking north towards Ben Ledi with it's morning shroud still bubbling away from it's flanks, and below it Loch Lubnaig with it's own blanket of mist.  One can also see mist that engulfs Loch Venachar at the base of Ben Ledi.  I love days like this, crystal clear visibility and cloud and mist provide a extra dynamic to already spectacular views.

On the descent the view through the woods is rather less spectacular as it's principly forest track with trees that obscure any distant view.  However, as I leave the forest just above the Mollands estate I am rewarded with a lovely picture frame of the sun lit valley to the north with cobwebs on the grass providing an enchanting and tranquil setting.

Back home it there was a quite spot of DIY doing up Gwen's new room and then out at 10:30 for the marshal briefing and final race setup - my role for the day was a race timing based at the top of Ben Guilipen.

At 1pm the race started from the Cohallian Car park, and in 23 minutes the first rider appeared, and by 2pm everyone was back at the top and ready to head back down, quickest descent was just over 11 minutes! Below is the one photograph I got of the race - here the riders are assembling for the start of the descent. No chance to take any other photo's as I was too busy looking at stop watches and taking notes of times.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Olympic Challenge Review

On the 27th of July, the first day of the London Olympics, I embarked on personal Challenge to run, walk, swim and cycle 205 miles, one mile per country, during the 17 days of the Olympics.  This meant covering an average of 12 miles per day, more than double the average of 5 miles per day I'd done in during the rest of 2012.  Clearly it was going to be tough on my body, but just how tough in reflection?

Lets start by looking at the logs of my various bits of exercise that I did, below is a screen grab from my sportpal.com account where I upload all my GPS traces recorded from my phone during the 17 days:

Key items are that total distance was 205.27miles, so I achieved my Olympic Challenge with a tiny bit to spare. The single biggest chunk of exercise I did was running - 101.47 miles in 15 hours, which equates to a rather sedate 8:53 pace, and my average HR 146.  This was a key part of my original plan - to keep intensity down to minimize the chance of injury.  Averages don't tell the whole story though...

Grand plans

Part of my original plan was to do four big days:
  1. Entering the Callander Highland Games Hill Race on the first Sunday (29th July)
  2. Trail Marathon run to honour the Womens Marathon run on the second Sunday (5th August)
  3. Olympic Distance Triathlon to honour the Mens Triathlon on the second Tuesaday (7th of August) on
  4. Trail Marathon run to honour the Mens Marathon on the final Sunday (12th of August).
For the log above and my blog accounts you'll be able to see that I completed the 8 mile hill race, coming 8th, but then as consequence had niggling foot injury that I had to nurse along during the subsequent week.

This had mostly calmed down for my first marathon and had an epic yourney around the Trossachs.  My left arch of my foot was pretty sore at the 15 mile point though, but this eased off a little in the second half, but my right knee began to ache a little in the last few miles.  A little discomfort in my right knee had been around for a couple of weeks after running Ben Ledi so it was a case of aggravating previous niggles rather than introducing a new one.

I was expecting a slow recovery from the marathon but the day after felt fine, pretty well no aches and pains even in my feet and knee and had plenty of energy and completed a four mile recovery run with ease.  I had been expecting to struggle going into the Olympic Distance Triathlon just two days after marathon but now felt confident.

The day of Triathlon arrived while I struggled a bit to get up early after a bit of broken nights sleep felt good physically and mentally and was all set for a 1500m swim, 40km cycle and 10km run.  Getting up a bit too late meant that I rushed a bit to get out to the swimming pool in time and forgot my how made energy drink and lock for the bike, so back I went and collected them.  This made me ever later arriving at the McLaren and when I got there I got told I had only 20 minutes till the pool was being used for a group that I just didn't have the time to complete my 1500m.  I returned home with the intention of trying again on the Wednesday.  An early start put me in good position but in getting myself ready I knocked the scab off a small surgical wound just below my eye (I had a mole removed back in June).  I couldn't swim with goggles sitting over an open wound so had to can the Triathlon.

Grand Plans... come undone...

Three days after the marathon and totally psyched up for a Olympic Triathlon I felt EPIC, EPIC like in the moneysupermarket.com advert way!  I couldn't believe how much how energy I had and how loose I felt.  To burn off a little of this energy I headed off on a 8 mile tempo run up to Loch Venachar sailing club. Originally I had planned not fast runs except for the Hill race as I knew with doing so many miles any fast running would be a high injury risk, but I just felt so good I just went with the flow.  At the half way mark I was cruising comfortably along at 7min/mile pace with HR in low 160's and just couldn't bring myself to turn back on such a glorious sunny morning so I continued on to complete a half marathon course.  I was totally in the zone for the first 10 miles, keeping up the tempo race was effortless, no aches and pains, no heavy breathing, just gliding along.

For the last three miles my body began to complain a little, keeping 7 min/miles began to be a bit taxing and I had a few twinges from my left foot.  My foot was no worse at the time than it had been on previous days so I thought nothing of it.  And for my efforts I had run a half marathon in 1:32, my second fastest ever and I wasn't even pushing hard, it was just plain incredible to do it just three days after a marathon.

That afternoon after the run and subsequent days proved to be a bit different though, my left underside of my foot was sore even when walking.  Clearly doing a quick half marathon so close to a marathon was fool hardy, and I was now paying for my over enthusiasm.  I had felt Epically fit and now I felt Epically stupid.

Managing injuries

Often when training you get injury niggles that fade with subsequent training runs, other times niggles turn into long term injuries that require resting or at least a change in training to avoid over using a injured part.  Knowing which side of the line an injury niggle is hard, get it wrong you injury yourself good and proper, get it right and you maintain your training, with experience I've got better at this.  I've found that self massage/using foam roller and gentle active recovery have all pushed where up where the line is.

The 17 days of my Olympic Marathon would a good test of my ability manage injury niggles and first half did well with niggles fading away and troubling me less.  However, one misjudged run at too high intensity for too many miles tipped me over the edge.  It was really down to following my heart and not my brain, I just wanted to soak up the pleasure of running fast through beautiful country side, heart pounding senses alive, I felt invisible, but I knew full well that it was foolhardy but couldn't bring myself to slow down and do a shorter run.

The subsequent days after the fast Half Marathon I was nursing the left foot arch, and my right foot arch was also a little uncomfortable my using trigger point massage so both feet were obviously still a bit overused, and my right knee was a little bit uncomfortable as well - I suspect the hard downhills of Ben Ledi and the Hill race over stressed it a little.   With my left foot slow at healing I had to keep all my runs to short, and use cycling and walking to make up the miles for the rest of the Olympic Challenge.

Common sense prevails in the end

On the final day I only did 6 miles rather than the Marathon I had planned, I'm sure I could have pushed on and done a marathon but it would have been a huge risk for aggravating the foot injury.  I would have love to have ticked off both the Triathlon the final marathon but common sense won over bravado.  A 9 mile cycle and 2 mile walk with Gwen and Ellen rounded off my 17 miles for the day and the whole 205 mile Challenge.


A week on from the fateful half marathon and three days after completing the Challenge I still have discomfort in my left foot and right knee but have been able to run OK for short recovery runs. I can sense I'm still right on the line though, things are improving slowly but not quick enough to warrant returning to normal training.  Avoiding injuries when upping the training stimulus is always difficult, I would have achieved it if only I had stuck to me original plan of all easy paced running.  This aspect I failed, but I learned a lesson - listen to ones head not heart when undertaking a big challenge.

My general fitness markers such as calories used per mile (around 80 cals/mile on flat routes) when running haven't changed significantly through the big increase in aerobic exercise during the Challenge.  The amount of running I did per day was in the end was around the weekly mileage I was doing prior to the Highland Fling and the my fitness markers are around about the same now as then - so the big addition of time walking, cycling and swimming doesn't seem to have made a difference.   This could mean that I've maxed out my aerobic fitness, or perhaps cross training isn't that important to a runner with already pretty good aerobic fitness.

I weighed myself at the beginning of the challenge and at the end and my weight hasn't changed - so for all the 880 calories/day I was burning (based on SportyPal's estimates for my weight and exercise undertaken) I must have eaten just the right amount to keep things balanced.  This is something important to take away - exercising lots doesn't mean you'll loose weight, it just makes you more hungry...  Something I don't mind as I LOVE food!

Doing a physical Challenge is just about physical fitness though, for me it's been a great tonic for a stressful summer.  As you'll see from the photo's of the various cycles and runs I've done the Trossachs is an absolutely stunning place to be out and about.  The weather doesn't have been perfect for the mountains, lochs, forests and wildlife to be glorious.

I can't recommend getting out into nature and doing some exercise more, it beats sitting on the couch in front of telly or running on treadmill any day. There's a whole world out there, go explore it and have fun getting healthy!

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Olympic Challenge 17 : 6 mile run, 9 mile cycle, 2mile walk. Challenge DONE!

  Run 6 miles, 0:51:07 Average HR 144, Calories 503
  Cycle 9.28 miles 0:38:13, Average HR 144, Calories 358
  Walk 2 miles
  Total 205 miles, Challenge Completed :-)

My original plan for the final day was to honour the Men's Olympic Marathon by running a trail Marathon from Killin back to Callander.  My original plan didn't included blasting a Half Marathon four days before that turned a niggling foot injury into one that didn't even allow me to run two miles on my penultimate day.

While I was dumb enough to go run a quick Half Marathon three days after a Marathon just, I'm not quite stupid enough not to know when to adjust my plans - I had 17 miles left to do so decided to run, cycle and walk the final miles.  My left foot felt better this morning so I headed out for a 6 mile loop at an easy pace.  On an occasional landing on the stony trail I had a bit of pain from the foot it mostly held up just fine. 

I had breakfast on my return then headed out for a quick cycle up past the Sailing Club at Loch Venachar. I pushed the pace on hoping to exceed an average of 15mph, but taking photo's a waiting at traffic lights meant that I didn't quite achieve it.  On the return leg I took a photo from Invertrossachs road towards Callander, the Crags and the Callander meadows, after quite a few miles on foot and the bike it's felt good to be on the home straight and returning to such a lovely place that we call home.

Back in town I crossed the footbridge over the Teith and there below me was two Swans with their Cygnet.  What a treat.

After the cycle I now had just under 2 miles left to do to complete my 205 miles, so I took the opportunity to finish it with a walk with Gwen and Ellen so we could complete it together.  Ellen was at a friend's house for dinner so Gwen and I headed over to pick here up, first stopping off at the Camp Place swing park.

After picking up Ellen we headed along the Roman Camp path and then along the river to the Geisher Pool.  A nice stretch of river so I took a photo of Gwen.

While I was distracted Ellen took the opportunity for some mischief, and came running up behind me at full speed:

And suddenly raised her hand and released a cloud of grass seed at me covering my head and top!

Time to attempt some portraits of the girls

Here's Gwen looking elegant and poised
Ellen clambering up the side of the platform and just can't keep back a wry smile.

I had planned to finish the Challenge side by side with Ellen and Gwen but alas they raced off through the houses at high speed leaving me to wander along to the finish.  When I got back I there was great excitement and too my surprise and amusement I was awarded a gold medal!

Caitlin had made the medal which looked great and was a lovely way to end my Challenge.


We all stayed up and watched the close Ceremony, another great show, but a little too long for Ellen and Gwen who fell asleep in the last hour. 

Olympic Challenge 16 : 1.35 mile run, 2.5 mile walk, 188 miles down, 17 miles to go

  Run, 1.35 miles, Average HR 132, 99 Calories
  Walk with Ellen and Gwen, 2.53 miles
  Total 188 miles
  Distance to go:  17 miles, 5 miles behind schedule.

Just a quick post with photo's of my early morning run that I cut short due to my left foot being sore, no point making an injury worse!

In the afternoon I took Ellen and Gwen into town for chips via the river path and Camp Place swing park.  While walking along the river path we spotted a Heron fishing.

Ellen and Gwen fed with chips served up with a portion of Flying fox and now heading home along the river path.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Olympic Challenge 15 : 27 mile cycle 184 miles down, 21 miles to go

  Cycle, 27.5 miles, 2:07:04, Average HR 139, Calories 1164
  Total 184 miles
  Distance to go:  21 miles, on schedule.

I took Thursday off do rest my injured foot and today opted to cycle around route I had planned for the Triathlon. My route took through Callander town Centre and then south along the A81 along the Mollands straight, then road climbs up the flank for cock hill for two miles, finally at the top of the climb you reach Loch Rusky.

After the Loch Rusky the road heads downhill, great fun after the long slow climb.  I hit 35mph on the descent yehaaa!!!!

The road levels out and reaches Lake of Mentieth, home to lots of trout and fisherman of the human and bird kind - the Lake is home to several Osprey, alas I didn't spot them today.

Another 3 miles of undulating road I arrived at Aberfoyle, 12 miles and 55 minutes into the ride.

Out of Aberfoyle you head north and up over the Duke's pass.  The section is toughest of the whole route, with 700ft of ascent in 2.4 miles.  The views are well worth the effort, here looking north east towards Ben Ledi.

The descent takes a couple of miles with quite a few bends that I was too chicken to go at full speed, applying the breaks at blind bends.  One wouldn't want to go too fast down here anyway, views at too good to miss - here looking north west towards Ben A'an - the pimple at the left end of the ridge ahead.

The descent finishes at the shores of Loch Achray which you get to spy between the trees,  the calm conditions rewarded one with great reflections of the sky and terrain.

The route then takes you eastwards through  Brig O'Turk then past the north shore of Loch Venachar.

Once past Loch Venachar it's only a 4 miles further home, it's pretty flat - at least compared to the rest of the route so was able to average 16mph for the these last few miles.  I arrive back just before 10am in a time of 2hrs 7 minutes, I was hoping for a nice round number of 2 hours - taking too many photographs will obviously be the reason I didn't hit it!

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Olympic Challenge 13 : half marathon tempo run, 156 miles down, 49 miles to go

  Tempo run, 13.1 miles, 1:32:30, Calories 1129
  Total 156 miles
  Distance to go:  49 miles, on schedule.

My plan for today was to do the Olympic Distance Triathlon, and after a better nights sleep I awoke at 6:30am and the sun the was shinning!  After so m rain this summer having two back to back sunny days was remarkable, what good fortune to be out and about today.  My prep all went smoothly and on schedule for getting in the pool at 8:00am.

Alas at some point I must have knocked the skin/scab off where my mole had been removed earlier in the summer.  The incision had mostly healed and had been fine for a month, but had got a little infected and inflamed over the past week - perhaps too much swimming/wearing goggles as they sit right on the scar site.  I now had an open wound right where I was planning to put goggles for an hour of swimming, not a good combination for trying to heal a wound site so I decided to not risk it and canned the Triathlon for the day.  I was still all keyed up for 4 hours of exercise so headed out for a tempo run to burn off the pent up energy.  With such glorious weather one can't help but have a spring in ones step!

A mile into the run I crossed footbridge over the river Teith just before the primary school.  Upstream of the bridge a Heron stood motionless on a tree that had been brought down by floods:

I then glanced downstream and there was another Heron perched on a stone, further away so not so visible in a small in this blog, click on the picks to bring them full screen.

I took the Invertrossachs road up to Loch Venachar  which was a calm as a mill pound, provided a glorious reflection:

I was enjoying running out in the sunshine and views so much that I extended my normal tempo run out/back of 8 1/2 miles to do a loop around Invertrossachs house to do my half marathon route.  I was feeling great so kept the tempo 7min/mile pace.  Havingt run a marathon three days before I just couldn't quite believe how well I felt, lots of energy, feeling loose with few niggles, comfortably cruising along.

I had to stop and and take yet another photo though, the Trossachs was just looking so awesome this morning:

On last three miles a few signs of fatigue started to appear, my free ride was now over so had to dig a little deeper to keep the pace up.  Passing back over the footbridge no Herons but a family of Grebe's greeted me:

For the last 1/3rd mile finally some common sense kicked in and I took my foot off the accelerator and jogged in to easy down the muscle tension and begin the process of recovery.  Originally it was my intention during my Olypmic Challenge to do all my runs/cycles and swims at a gentle pace to avoid injuries and exhaustion, doing a quick half marathon certainly wasn't part of the game plan.

Back at the house I kicked off my shoes and found my left underside of my feet was really sore.  I thought I had kicked all these problems but now it was back with a vengeance.  Massaging the bottom of both feet revealed that both are tender but the left is much worse.  I think now that it's more likely that the muscles in my feet are overused/strained rather than my plantar fascia.  Fast running and going uphills seems to be the trigger, in particular a strong push in late stance looks to be when the area is under most strain and discomfort.

Now I feel pretty stupid for having run fast for so far.  I didn't get any discomfort from any part of my body until mile 10, had I stopped then I'm guessing I would have been fine.  Messaging and keeping active but in more gentle way will be key to healing the strain, fingers crossed I won't have screwed my chances of completing my two final big challenges - the Olympic Triathlon and the final day Marathon due on Sunday.

Still I ran the second fastest half marathon that I have ever done and wasn't racing, just cruising along at tempo pace.  Clearly I'm in shape to go sub 1:30, and very likely in the shape to beat my PB of 1:28:57 set back in November 2010.