Friday, 24 April 2015

Highland Fling Live Updates, Splits & Plans

A quick post for family and friends so there know how to check my progress online, when I run the Highland Fling, a 53 mile ultra marathon that follows the West Highland Way from Milgnavie, Glasgow to Tyndrum.
Image courtesy of HighlanFling website.

First up, I've signed up for facebook updates, no clue if I've done it right or how exactly the times I'll pass through check points, I'm hoping it'll just appear in my facebook feed.

The race timing also has an website where you can check up on progress:

    Live ChipResults for Robert Osfield, race no. 679

Training had gone really well this year, looking at my training logs I should be on to beat my time of 9:43 set last year.  A spanner in the works in that on Wednesday during an gentle run my right knee suddenly became painful just 100 metres from home.  I've done short recovery runs on Thursday and today (Friday) to ease it off and it's just a little sore now, but a gentle 4 mile run is nothing like a hilly 53 mile race, so I'm just hoping it'll be fine tomorrow.

Based on my training logs I've estimated a range of finishing times, setting myself some rather lofty targets that I feel are possible if everything goes really well.

   Platinum : sub 8:50hr
   Gold : sub 9:00hr
   Silver:  sub 9:15hr
   Bronze: sub 9:45hr

The start time is 6:00am, so my likely finishing time should be between 3pm and 4pm.

Using last years splits as a guide I have created splits for the various check points, not off of these have timing mats, you'll only be able to get timing information for Drymen (12m), Rowardennan (28m), Beinglas (40m) and the finish at Tyndrum(53m). Splits for the first 27 miles are:

Finish Time Drymen Avg. Pace Balmaha Avg. Pace Rowardenan Avg. Pace
08:30:00 01:42 08:26 02:50 08:58 04:05 09:04
08:45:00 01:45 08:41 02:55 09:14 04:12 09:20
09:00:00 01:48 08:56 03:00 09:30 04:19 09:36
09:15:00 01:51 09:11 03:05 09:46 04:27 09:52
09:30:00 01:54 09:26 03:10 10:02 04:34 10:07
09:45:00 01:57 09:41 03:15 10:17 04:41 10:23

Splits for the second half are:

Inversanid Avg. Pace Beinglas Avg. Pace Tyndrym Avg. Pace
05:09 09:08 06:34 09:36 08:30 09:39
05:18 09:24 06:45 09:53 08:45 09:56
05:27 09:40 06:57 10:10 09:00 10:13
05:36 09:56 07:09 10:27 09:15 10:30
05:45 10:12 07:20 10:44 09:30 10:47
05:55 10:28 07:32 11:01 09:45 11:04

I had question about what food I eat, so here's a photo of the food and drink going in my drop bags that I'll pick up at the above check points:

Food & Drink, Left at start @ Milgnavie, Right end at last checkpoint before Finish
That's 1.7 Litres of fluids, and around 2000 calories.  Drinks are either chocolate milkshake or homemade youghart and cherry juice, or with raspberry flavouring, or a bottle made up zero calories electrolyte + caffine.  Fruit and nutes, bannana, liquish and cereal bars make up the solids.

A days calories all to be consumed in last than ten hours, whilst running, won't get fat though as I'll be burning around 6000 calories! ;-)

Best of luck to all those who are racing or marshalling tomorrow.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

The Great Tartan Skidaddle : Race Report 2015

I hadn't originally planned to do ultra race just two weeks before my first A race of the year - the Highland Fling, but the inaugural "The Great Tartan Skidaddle", 31 mile ultra from Inversnaid to Callander, was being held right on my doorstep.  How could I resit?

All wasn't plain sailing the in the week before the race though.  Ten days after the Loch Katrine Marathon I had felt recovered enough to do a tempo run, first one for several months.  This tempo run went fine but two days later on an easy run the extensor tendon on top of left big toe/top of my foot had become a bit sore, a type of pain I've never had before. A hilly 15 miler the next day the discomfort was largely gone, but at mile 14 suddenly turned into enough pain to stop me in my tracks and force me to run/walk the final mile.

The rest of the time before the race I backed right off on the pace and distance, sticking to relatively flat routes.  I also made sure that all my shoes were loose and ran without socks on most runs to make sure no pressure would be put on the inflamed tendon.  This worked and race day the minor injury was on the mend, but not still not quite 100% - but certainly good enough to risk running.

The avoid aggrevating the problem tendon I chose my F-Lite 232's as these give the top of my toe the most wiggle room, and used 3mm inserts rather than 6mm ones I usually use on ultra's.  This was calculated risk - less likely to cause problems with the top of my foot, but expose the bottom on my feet more to the tougher sections of trail.

Race day

Registration was in Callander a , then all the competitors boarded two mini buses for the drive to the start at Inversnaid Pier.  There event had two sets of competitors, 13 entered into the 31 mile ultra, and 10 entered into a dualathlon comprising of a run, cycle and run of 30 miles.  I believe a couple of competitors didn't turn up on the day so I'm not sure of the final figures.

The small field for the ultra meant that there was a chance that I might finally get myself a top three placing, something that has eluded me since I was teenager.  With the race so close to the Highland Fling my plan was to run it as a training run and if I so happened to end up near the front so much the better. My plan was to run with similar HR range as I did for the Loch Katrine Marathon which was 140 to 150, aiming for an average of 145.  This level of effort was easily manageable and would be ensure that I would recover quickly from the race - it worked well for the Loch Katrine Marathon, so all I needed to do was stick to the plan...

Having all competitors arrive together meant that assembling everyone for the briefing at the Inversnaid Hotel went really efficiently and soon enough we were assembling down on the pier.  There had been rain, sleet and snow forecast, and a couple of showers had already swept through on our arrival so it was felt pretty wintery at the start.

Competitors assembling on the Peir, Loch Lomond, surrounding mountains and weather gave a rather wintry feel

Ultra runners and Run/Cyclists together, contemplating the weather and miles ahead

Help!! Don't leave us stranded here! (photo courtesy of Skidaddle)

View looking up the hill to the waterfall and where we'd be ascending
As everyone was assembled, briefed and ready the horn blew and we were all off together.

Run/Cyclists leading the charge (photo courtesy of Skidaddle)

The route starts on the pier, then past the hotel and up the steps heading south along the West Highland Way.

Happy to start near the back (photo courtesy of Skidaddle)

Shortly after going past the waterfall the route heads uphill and off the West Highland Way, the route now is officially the "Great Trossachs Path" from Inversnaid to  Callander.  The race follows this newly opened path, except for the ultra runners who'd include Primrose hill above at the north east end of Loch Katrine.

Pretty quickly the field strung out walking up the steep path away from Loch Lomond.  Right away my HR was up at 150, even with just walking steadily.  The Run/Cylists had all torn off, and by the time we got to the top of the steep ascent I was running amongst the ultra runners.  I was third last at this point. 

Once the route flattened off I picked off a few places, but found my shoe choice - my inov8 F-Lite 232's a bit too minimal for the stony path so had to be careful on the short descents as we head past Loch Arklet. Was my gamble the wrong one? Too late now to worry about it so I just made sure I placed my feet carefully.

I spent a last couple of miles on the way to first check point at Stronaclacher Pier, at the west end of Loch Katrine, chatting with Roddy Cunnignham.  The showers had blown away and briefly the sun came out making for very pleasant running conditions and great views.

Peir @ Stronachlacher (photo courtesy of Skidaddle)

First of the runners to arrive at the first check point was Aron Price. He was already well ahead my this stage and must have been keeping up with the Run/Cyclists.

1st ultra runner in a CP1, Aron Price (photo courtesy of Skidaddle)
A little while later Roddy and myself arrived, with fellow Callander runner Chris Ryan not far behind.  It was Chris' first ultra.

Myself, Roddy then Chris arriving at CP1 (photo courtesy of Skidaddle)

I dropped off my empty bottle and picked up my supplies for the next section along Loch Katrine.  The sound of bagpipes welcomed us in and sent us on our way.

Event organizer Maz welcomed us in to the CP1 (photo courtesy of Skidaddle)
Roddy and I head off (photo courtesy of Skidaddle)

1st lay Bridet Halewood (photo courtesy of Skidaddle)
Chris, Roddy and myself ran together for the next few miles as we headed north along the road the goes round the north shore of Loch Katrine.  Once we hit a bigger descent I found my HR dropping so I upped the pace to keep within my target 140 to 150 zone and immediately found myself on my own.

I couldn't see any runners ahead initially, but as I scanned the opposite shore for cyclists I saw a runner, later found it was Aron Price.  Looking at my GPS trace Aron must have had a mile+ lead at this point.  I didn't know if there were any other runners ahead.

Aron cruising on the north shore in 1st (photo courtesy of Skidaddle)
The weather was very changeable - for a couple of minutes we'd have sunshine, then we'd be pelted with hail and strong winds, the next calm.  The rapidly changing weather meant it was difficult to judge where to don jackets or not.  The woodlands on the north side of the lochs provided a bit of shelter from the wind so it was possible to just run without jacket and get into my groove.

I didn't know it yet by I was in 2nd (photo courtesy of Skidaddle)
I could no longer see anyone behind as the route has lots of ups and downs, and lots of corners.  Unknown to me Chris had pushed on and was now in 3rd.

And now in 3rd Chris was going strong (photo courtesy of Skidaddle)
The north shore has lots and hills but as I'd had done the Loch Katrine Marathon three weeks which follows the same route I felt right at home.  I was able to stick to my 140 to 150 HR range without problems and was making good progress.

You can't be in the Trossachs without seeing a Highland Cow (photo courtesy of Skidaddle)
Four miles out from the next check point at the east of Loch Katrine the ultra route gets diverted off the road and up Primrose Hill.  The marshal directing me up the hill said I was in 2nd, with 1st place roughly 5 minutes ahead.  This was doubly good news - I was safely in a podium position and if the estimate was accurate I was catching up.

As I ascend through the light woodland the weather turned for the worse so I donned my new jacket and matched up the hill.  The jacket was a prize for winning John Kynaston's Hardmoors 55 Guess My Time competition, the UltraMarathonStore had very generously offered the Race Ultra Shell as a prize.  It only weighs 125g but was very effective at sheltering me from the strong winds, hail, sleet and snow that hammered in during the ascent. 

Once I got to the top of Primrose Hill there wintry shower had blown by and the sun had come out.  The reward of climbing 500ft was glorious - Loch Katrine shimmered in the sunshine, Ben Venue and Ben Lomond look magnificent. 

I was still in a race though so I didn't stop to take a photo, but regret it now, the view was just stunning.  I stowed my jacket and began the descent, gentle at first then finally a steep descent back down to the road. 

The route then follows the road eastwards towards Trossachs Pier, the views of the Loch and Ben Venue were very different in character, but still gorgeous.

Final mile before Trossachs Pier (photo courtesy of Skidaddle)

I kept looking for 1st place in the distance but only ever spotted walkers and cyclists.  Just before the end of the Loch I looked back scanning for Chris and spotted him about a 1/3 rd mile back and still looking to be running strongly.

At the check point at Trossachs Pier I picked chocolate milkshake and brioche, and inquired about 1st place, but as they were recording times I just got a vague "not sure perhaps 10 minutes".  I had been running well so had hoped to be a least not loosing further ground.  Was the original 5 minute estimate wrong? Was this one wrong.  I hadn't seen 1st place for a very long time so really didn't have a clue.

I got back into my running and found my HR below the 140 range despite charging down the gently descending road at 7 min/mile pace, I was a bit surprised by the HR reading, was it playing up? 

After half a mile the route turns right heading south west, then across a small bridge, then left then right again, then left again all the while threading through the woodland and heading gently uphill towards the Duke Pass road crossing.  I had never been on this trail before so it was fun to explore a new part of the Trossachs, just before Duke Pass road crossing the woodland cleared to provide a great view of Loch Achray, and surrounding mountains and forest. 

During this climb my HR monitor had been either reading in the 130's or the 150's and little in between.  The trail is mostly up, but with a few short descents, but I'm generally pretty good at running at even intensity these days so to get such erratic readings was frustrating.  It seemed to be getting stuck in one extreme, then getting stuck in the other.  The Wahoo Tickr bluetooth HR monitor that I use now just doesn't seem as reliable as my old tech Polar HR monitor watch.

The sun had come out and with the forest sheltering one from the wind it was quick warm on the final ascent up the last hill before the road crossing.  A marshal pointed me left and down a steep slope to the road crossing.  The marshal estimated that 1st place was around 3 minutes ahead.  This rather surprised me, but my tree was shaken even more when as I descend the trail and spotted 1st place just leaving the road crossing, the lead was now a hundred meters or so.  23 miles down, 8 mile to go, Game on!

I crossed the road and headed downhill along the forest trail with 1st place in sight, and left with a decision to make about what tactics to use.  I had been running entirely by HR and feel when the HR was playing up, my pace had been pretty stable throughout the race and I was now catching up.  Should I stick with this?  Would 1st place respond and lift the pace?  Should I pick up the pace to make a decisive move?

I decided to keep to my own pace and be patient, and half way along the Loch Achray I caught up with 1st place.  Aron was stilling running well, looking comfortable doing 9 min/miles.  We ran and chatted for a few minutes, but I found myself itching to get on, taking it easier for a couple of minutes meant that I had plenty in the tank so decided to move on.  I decided to move on decisively and try to get a couple of minute lead before the next check point about a mile further on at the foot of Lendick Hill. 

I picked up the pace aiming for a 160 to 170 HR zone, this meant I was now doing 7 min/mile pace.  This slowed a little as I ascend up along the road through the village of Brig-O-Turk, I kept the pressure on till I got to the Lendrick Hill/Glen finglass carpark check point.  I quickly picked up my final drink and headed on to the final big climb of the day.

The ascent takes you through woodland so I couldn't see Aron arrive at the checkpoint but I heard the cheers from the marshals so I knew I must have a couple of minute lead.  My aim with the surge was to get out of sight to break the elastic that might pull Aron along if was still feeling competitive.  With a couple of minutes in hand I dropped the effort level and kept my HR in the 150 to 160 range as there was little point in risking blowing up with 6 hilly miles left to do.

I felt strong, good energy levels, but my calves were feeling the effort and the bottoms of my feet were a bit sore, nothing that would slow me down though. The tendon issue on my big toe had melted away and didn't show any signs of recurring so it was a relief not to be risking making an injury worse.  Being in 1st place first time for 30 years added a different dimension to the race, the thought of sticking to my plan of using the run as pure training run was out of the window. 

When I first got back into running 5 years ago my children would ask if I had won each time I did a race, I had always had to reply that I had come 30th, 300th, the closest I had ever come was in very small races such as the Lochalsh Dirty 30.  Over the years they had got used to the fact that I never win anything and stopped asking.  Sure this race was very small field so no comparison to really competitive race like the Fling or West Highland Way Race, but I wasn't about to squander 1st place so kept the pace up.

I didn't take any photo's as I was racing, but the views were gorgous, follows are a couple of photo's from previous runs along the new path on the North side of Loch Venachar:

View from the Great Trossachs Path in winter

Summery view of Loch Venachar from the new path, taken only a few weeks later!

Once past the highest point above Loch Venachar I checked my average pace, it was 9:10 min/mile pace.  In planning before the race I had in mind the possibility of average 9 min/mile pace on the route, I was so close to this that I set this as my goal, running the descents as swiftly as my sore feet would permit.

The quality of the trail gets better the nearer you get to Callander so the last three miles I was able to run assertively, with my feet and calves holding up just fine.  The average pace steadily dropped but with two miles to most of the descents behind I was still adrift. 

 The last mile is along the old railway line that takes to the finish at Callander Meadows, it's a route that I run several times I week I knew exactly how far was left and was able to pick up the pace a ran this last mile at 6:40 min/mile pace.  Half a mile to go and my watch finally clicked to 9:00 min/mile average pace.

I didn't back off though, I was enjoying running strongly and still had enough left to pick up the pace for the final stretch to the finish.  I crossed the line in 4:39:31, and 1st person to have ever run the newly opened Great Trossachs Path!

(photo courtesy of Skidaddle)
Julia took this photo, with me keeping warm in my new jacket, obviously brings me good luck!
9 minutes later Aron Price came in second.

2nd place, Aron Price 4:48:51 (photo courtesy of Skidaddle)
Chris Ryan came in third in his first ultra.

Chris Ryna, 3rd place, 5:00:33 (photo courtesy of Skidaddle)
First lady Bridget Halewood arrived 50 minutes later.

Bridget Halewod, 1st lady 5:51:43 (photo courtesy of Skidaddle)

Stats for the day

Recorded by my phone GPS/WahooTickr/Pebble watch combo:

   31.2 miles
   3268ft of ascent
   Average Pace 8:58 min/mile (fastest ultra I've ever done)
   Average HR 151 (ooops a bit higher than planned, but still 5bpm lower
   than any ultra I've raced before!)

The route profile is actually rather like a mini Highland Fling, starting lower than the finish, with lots of ups and downs in between, and mixture of narrow trails, wide forest tracks and roads.  

My strava trace for the event:

Recovery and beyond

Racing the last 8 miles wasn't in the plan so I there was a real risk of not recovering quickly from the race.  I had DOMs for a couple of days but nothing too severe.  The problem with the tendon above my left big toe felt good for the first week after the race, but this week it's returned a little.  Should be fine for the Fling though.

With a week of recovery runs over this week is now taper week for the Highland Fling, which entails pretty well the same thing as my recovery week!  Daily gentle runs at 9 to 10 min/mile pace of 4 to 7 miles in length.  Now just three nights left to my first really big race of the year - the 53 mile Highland Fling.

My training and races this year all point to a being able to good performance at the Fling, but I'm fully aware of how easy it is to get big ultras wrong on the day. My training log analysis suggest that I may be able to manage running a minute a mile faster than last year and go sub 9hrs, but the thought of managing this for 53 miles is hugely daunting, it doesn't really feel possible.  Fingers and toes crossed.


Thanks goes to Skidaddle and all the helpers that made this great wee event possible.  The route is beautiful from start to finish, passing 5 lochs, lots of mountains and forests.  I was a real pleasure to be able to see some of the best views that the Trossachs has to offer.  I guess I have geology and nature to thank as well then :-)

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Loch Katrine Marathon 2015: Race Report

Last minute entry

Earlier this year I had considered doing the Loch Katrine marathon but before I could check diaries with my wife the event filled up and entry was closed.  I decided to just focus on training instead.  That was the plan until two days before the race day when I found out places had been made available, an email on Friday to Audrey MacIntosh, race organizer secured myself a last minute entry.  Game on.

I had been tipped off about the spaces by Steven Hill (here's his race report) who contacted me to ask about the elevation profile as I had done the race before in 2014.  Once I secured my place Steven and I hatched a plan to use the marathon as a training run, with the Fling both our current goal race, and would run together and aim for a finishing time around 3:40.  Steven has did the Glemore 12 last summer, (coming 3rd!!) but hadn't actually done a marathon yet.  This would be my 5th marathon, and my second Loch Katrine Marathon so I knew a bit more of what I was letting myself in for.

As I found out on the Friday afternoon I had got a place I had just one days taper before the race, so the Saturday I opted for a 4 mile recovery run to relax the legs. On Saturday night I aimed to get plenty of sleep, but ended up with an hour at most, despite aiming to just run the marathon as a training run the adrenalin levels were already out of control.  Arghg.... Have to get better at sleeping before races.

Race day

Steven was kind enough to pick me up from Callander and we arrived in plenty time for registration.  Plenty of runners from the Scottish ultra scene were catching up in the car park, had time to briefly catch up with a few before race briefing then we were off at 9am.

The plan was Steven and I to pace loosely on heart rate to even out the effort level going up hills, along flats and descents.  I worked out beforehand that from my training logs that I should be able to do 3:40 Loch Katrine marathon with an average heart rate of 145, so was going to aim for a range between 140 and 150.  We'd also use splits from my race last year adjust for a 3:40 finish to tell how we progressing relative our goal pace, with the marathon route being so hilly, around 1600ft ascent/descent, these splits are far from even.

For the first few miles I found myself tailing Steven.  Steven was taking the hills quicker them me, while on the descent I'd close the gap.  By about mile 3 were were running more in sync and got chatting about running, work, family lives, and just how great the view was!

One thing noticeable early on was that Steven's heart rate was well below mine, with mine up at the top of my target range most of the time, and on steeper hills it was popping over my range.  My heart rate in training for the pace were doing was quite a bit lower so it was a bit frustrating to not see this improvement when taking it easy in a marathon.  However, we were too busy chatting and enjoying ourselves to take too much notice of the HR monitor though.  My HR peaked around 160 on one of the longer climbs.  Ooops...

By mile 6 we both warmed up and going well.  Steadily catching folk, running at a conversational pace without problems, and a little inside the 3:40 target pace. All good.

By mile 10 Steven's heart rate was beginning to catch up with mine, but my own heart rate had finally started to settle and rather than struggle to keep my heart rate in the 140 to 150 zone, found it bobbling around 145 without effort, and on the descent having to pick up the pace noticeably.

A couple of miles before the half away point the front runners began passing. And so began around 100 calls of encouragement to fellow runners.  Just before the half way point photograph Stuart Macfarlane took a great sequence of photo's of Steven and I. 

Our splits at half suggested that time just below 3:40 might still be possible, but Steven was starting to get warmer, was breathing a little heavier and his heart rate had finally gone above mine.  Signs were that chasing 3:40 was likely to push Steven beyond what should be done on a training run.

We didn't give up on the goal right away though.  We stopped at the water points for slightly longer to make sure we took on water and grabbed a few bits of tablet and jelly beans to provide a bit of fuel.   It was great passing every one, it's such a small and friendly race that pretty well everyone has a positive word of support.  Lots of photo's on the way too.  We passed Fiona Rennie and she had a beaming smile and was taking photo's of everyone, what a lovely way to document the event :-)

Photo courtesy of Fiona Rennie.

My heart rate, particularly on the descents was now getting a bit silly, it was just going down below 130.  At times I was struggling to believe the readings, lots of wetting the HR strap contacts didn't make a difference.  Steven and I were still slowly winding in runners ahead, and caught several when we started heading back up the more serious hills around mile 18.  One aptly named graveyard hill.

The longer the race went on the more I just got into the groove, my heart rate was sitting comfortably in my target zone, energy levels didn't seem any lower than they were at the start of the race, I was climbing hills easily, descending strongly.  It seemed to have taken me 20 miles to warm up.

After falling behind target pace on the big ascents between mile 18 and 20 and I was keen to use the descent efficiently to get us back on 3:40 pace.   However, the day was getting warming and Steven was struggling a bit with the heat and energy levels.  The 3:40 target was slipping away.

At around mile 21 we were passed for the first time since the start. Something that should have been fine with me as the run was intended to be training run only, but feeling so good and having people pass felt unnatural, coupled with the desire to hit the 3:40 target I started feeling the urge to press on, but really didn't want to pressure Steven into chasing some pointless time.  I kept back till just before mile 23 when Steven and I had a chat about whether we should stick together.  Steven has happy just to take it easy for the last few miles and not worry about the time, so I headed on.

Holding back for so long left me with quite a bit of pent up energy, so once I decided to push I found myself charging off at silly pace without even really trying - it was just like I took the handbrake off.  The last 3 miles I ended up averaging 6:40 min/miles.  My heart rate headed out to 160 to 170 range, but still feel really comfortable.  My breathing was noticeable for the first time, and the bottom of my feet burned a little form hammering down the descents, but my quads and calves were all holding up really well.  I had a brief chat with a few runners before pushing on, passing the runners that I had passed me earlier.

This is now the second time I've done a silly finish at the Loch Katrine Marathon, both times done after running disciplined to 23 miles and having lots of energy left.  I was still aware of the damage that a quick finish could do so I kept my running smooth and never consciously pushed the pace on, just let it flow.  On the final 100m's to the waiting crowds at the finish I kept strained, just picking up the pace a little further, no 5min/mile finishing pace this year.

Just before the finish I spotted Steven's wife and my family, a quick wave and then I was across the line in 3:34:34, in 27th place.  Steven finished ten minutes later,  having stopped at the aid station at mile 23 to drink plenty of water and eat some more treats.  He finished nice a strong - a great showing for a marathon first timer.

Post race

My average HR for the day ended up being 145, with the average for the last three miles 166.  Despite the rather high HR at the start and finish, the low HR in the middle of the race just happened to balance things perfectly, certainly not textbook HR pacing, but a lot of fun spending time with Steven, and having the energy left to burn up the last few miles.  My strava log looks like:

I was 8 minutes slower than last year's Loch Katrine Marathon, when I set my marathon PB at 3:26.  Last year I aimed for 3:30 rather than 3:40 that I did this year so it's not at all surprising I was slower.  Last year my average HR was 157, this year 145, my guess is that I could of matched last years time with an average HR of 150.  This is quite a big improvement in HR for a given pace in just one year which suggests my training is going well.

Both last year and this year I ran the marathon as a training run, with the intention of being able to get back into running right away afterwards.  Last year I ended up with a minor calf injury so couldn't get back into training right fully for two weeks.  This year I had an easy week after the race but still managed over 60 miles.  The pace of recovery this year is another sign that training is going well, and my body is both more aerobically conditioned as well as being more resilient.

Three weeks after the Loch Katrine Marathon I had my next big test of fitness - The Skidaddle Great Tartan Ultra held on the 11th of April.  This adventure will be my next to write up.  I need to get done quick as it's now just one week before the Fling!


I'd like to thank Audrey MacIntosh and here band of merry helpers, the Loch Katrine Running Festival was a great success, it was a real privilege to be part of Britain's most beautiful and friendly road marathon.