Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Running in Frosted Cheesecake to Running on Sunshine!

The last week on running has brought some amazing contrasts, last Wednesday I was running in fresh snow, at the weekend running by mist shrouded lochs to the last two days of brilliant sunshine.

On Wednesday 13th I was planning on heading into Glasgow to attend as a participant of Msc study at Strathcyde University into effect barefoot/minimal running on balance and risk of ankle injury compared to conventionally shod runners.  Running a far number of miles in Vivobarefoot Neo Trails + Inov-8 Bare-X 180's seems to qualify me as a barefoot/minimalist runner.  Unfortunately, snow overnight and in the morning meant road conditions were too iffy to risk heading in so... instead of hoping around in lab I got to head out for a lunchtime run in the fresh snow, time to be kid once more :-)

My route took north and uphill through the woods around Bracklin Falls
The underfoot conditions were rather strange due to the nature of the weather - warm air from an occluded front slide over the cold air dropping rain into cold air producing a cross between snow and hail.  As I ran up and the down hills I got to experience a range of stages of falling ice and snow, when I turned into the strong wind on my return leg the mix was pretty harsh on any exposed skin.  The peculiar snow/ice mixture underfoot was dense and viscous and best described as running in frosted cheesecake! 

Bracklin bridge, alas my phone camera couldn't capture it well in the low light
View from south Bracklin bridge, looking back to location of previous photo
View north from Brackin Bridge and the direction I'd be following
A mile or so later looking south towards the Scout Pool
Two days later the sun was out and had melted the majority of the snow, since our three girls were all off on half term holidays we took them out for a family walk along the part of the same route as my run two days earlier.
At the Keltie Bridge pond we were greeted by two hungry swans
Heading up the farm track towards Bracklin Falls, looking back west towards Ben Gulipen and Ben Ledi

The next day I woke before the rest of the family and headed out for a 15 mile long run, my longest so far this year.  I went out with just a small drink of water, no tea to wake me properly and no breakfast in my belly.  This is part of my fat burning training plan for the Fling - as much as possible all my runs are running without carbo loading or in flight refuelling.  Boy I was sleepy though, my whole run I just plodded along at 9 min/mile pace, my body just wouldn't respond to going any faster.  Not that I needed or wanted to, but it was an odd feeling just to be stuck in one gear.  Perhaps the misty conditions and lack of sunlight had something to do with my lack of wakefulness... 

My run took my up the hill side overlooking Loch Venachar then down along the south bank on my return leg. 
There was absolutely no wind so loch was a mill pond with amazing mirror perfect reflections.
Beautiful and quite, add low glycogen and lack of caffeine and you have a surreal and magical experience
The following day (Sunday) I didn't run, but had loverly walk with my family along the board walk at Brig O'turk on route to a lunch at the Byre Inn.

View from the board walk, looking west towards Ben Venue

On Monday the girls were back at school and the sun was shining so headed out for a lunchtime run from Callander up Bochastle Hill.

3 miles in and 400ft up, view looking south towards the Loch Venachar and Ben Ledi, note ice on far side of the loch.
Near to top of the route, looking north towards Loch Lubnaig
Today the weather was just as glorious so for another lunchtime run I headed up Ben Gulipen.
The route up Ben Gulipen follows forest trails, the temperature contrast of shade to sun was startling, really feels like spring might not be too far away
At the top of Ben Gulipen I turned back at the masts, and took a snap of the view south towards Kippen and Glengoyne (part of the West Highland Way and the Fling!)
View east towards the Ochills and Stirling, kinda flat out there!
Ahh that's better, proper Trossachs mountain view - Loch Venchar below and Ben Ledi, Stuc a' Chroin and Ben More to the north.
It's extraordinary to look back at these photo's as the contrasts in the conditions of just one week. As much fun as playing in the snow is, the last two days running in the sun was just plain awesome.  Working from home and living in the Trossachs just spoils me rotten :-)

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