First ultra distance training run!

OK, so in the end we took a wrong turn, so it wasn’t the planned 28 miles, but it still tipped over the marathon distance into 26.51 miles, which I am totally taking.

I awoke on Saturday morning (some would argue, however, that the time I was stirring could still be classified as Friday night), and got my things together for the day’s long run – my third and final run with the Stonehaven running club’s Saturday long run crew, before attempting to run my first ultra, in just under three weeks time.  Annoyingly, the cold that had been bugging me for the past two weeks hadn’t quite gone away, and the familiar stuffy nose, sore throat, and achey body kept me company during my breakfast.  I questioned whether or not it was wise to attempt such a long run, but figured if it all went wrong, the run would be on roads, and I could hitch a lift back to anywhere that had a train station or bus stop.

And so, at 6:45, I was picked up by Dave, who thankfully did not turn out to be an axe-murderer, but a pleasant Irishman, with Mike (though casually dropping in his name here, I had also never met him in person until this point) in the passenger seat, and we set off on our merry way to Stonehaven, where we met up with the locals at a gas station at 7:20.

Once (nearly) everyone had made it to the start location, we set off through Dunnottar woods, and then onto quiet, undulating back roads.  The skies were blue!  The sun was out!  The temperature was ‘mild’ (for February in Scotland)!  The only gripe I had about the weather was the headwind, which, as we were doing an A to B run, would blast into our faces for, oooooooh, the entire day.  So that was nice.

22.2 long run elevationThe first 5 or 6 miles felt horrendous.  We were slogging uphill, there was wind in my face, there was snot blocking my airways, and I longed for the cosiness of my bed.  But after about an hour I started to feel….. almost good.  After about 11 miles, we waited for everyone to catch up before taking a group shot.  By this point, I felt practically normal (and especially smug for coming along).  Look at the blue sky!

Photo: V Shanks

Photo: V Shanks (as are the rest!)

After the group shot, it was less than two miles (downhill) into Inverbervie, where a number of us made use of the public toilets, before the ascent out of the town.

Approaching Inverbervie

Approaching Inverbervie

Leaving the coast involved a bit of powerwalking uphill, and running the flats and downhill sections, which became more frequent as we approached our finishing point, the Balmakewan cafe.  Some of the guys had gone on ahead, and those of us in the middle section took a different route on the final descent, which caused a bit of confusion when we reached the cafe first.

I had a hot stone massage booked for 15:30, and we made it to the cafe just after 13:00.  Ronnie had kindly agreed to pick me up at the end and drive me back so that I would make my appointment, but it would have also been nice to stay for lunch; it was pretty hard watching juicy, delicious burgers arrive at the table for others knowing I’d have to wait another few hours for a hot meal.  On the plus side, I felt great!  I guess running for 5 hours cures the common cold.

When Ronnie did arrive, he took me, Dave, and Mike back to Dave’s car in Stonehaven to pick up our warm clothes, then Ronnie drove me home using the ‘scenic route’ (translation: he took a few wrong turns), and Dave drove Mike home.

I made it home with enough time to throw myself into the shower, put on clean clothes, and scrape my hair back, before semi-jogging to my massage with 4 minutes to spare (not great fun).

The massage was delightful, but I was horrified to discover, when I got home, that my big toenail on my right foot was missing (it had taken a battering during the Texas marathon, and I honestly thought I’d lose it a lot sooner).  It must have come off during the foot scrub, which means the poor girl pampering me would have had to clean an entire toenail out of the foot-spa-bowl-thing she was using.

You guys knew this was coming.

You guys knew this was coming.

I phoned Ian on the way home and croaked something about, “Oven on…. Food in… On way,” and was delighted to have cajun chicken and rice in front of me half an hour later.  And that’s when the day’s exertion caught up with me, and my symptoms developed into the plague.

I was in bed and sleeping by 20:30.

The route

The route

11 thoughts on “First ultra distance training run!

  1. You ran to Balmekewan and didn’t eat!?!? How could you?! 😉

    Did you guys run along the A92 coastal route from Stonehaven to Inverbervie? I’m familiar with the massive hills leaving Inverbervie and along the Garvock (we run them too); they’re tough!

    And thanks for the toe shot, is this what I have to look forward to when both mine give up?

    • Not necessarily – I’ve managed to keep most of my toenails (apart from my second toe, ’cause they’re freakishly long so bash against any shoe), and I really hurt this particular nail last month. You’ve definitely done the right thing in going up a (half) size though.

      And I know – all the food looked delicious, and I would have been in heaven, but I can honestly say the massage was worth it.

      As far as the route? Not sure – possibly though. I just followed the route-master! 🙂

      • No, the only bit of the a92 we ran along was into inverbervie from that road where you and I were chatting and we saw the lord of the rings style field. We left the a92 when we turned right and headed up and up and up and up…

  2. Wow what a training run! 26.5 miles! Well done! You’re lucky that you have other people to run these long runs with. I’m also planning to run my first Ultra this year and am slightly nervous about running full marathons in training!!! Do you eat any proper food during these long runs?

    • Eating is something I’m only just getting to grips with during a run, but I hate gels, so have only taken energy drinks (Powerade) and snacks along, and eaten whatever appeals at the time. Favourites include: salted hula hoops, fig rolls, rice krispie treats, and dried fruit. Potato farls are also pretty decent.

      Which ultra are you aiming for?

      • I’m running the Salisbury 5-4-3-2-1 trail 50k. The course sounds really interesting as it includes 5 rivers, 4 hills, 3 large country estates, 2 castles, and 1 cathedral. Only takes place in August though which means I still have loooads of time to train.
        I have heard other people take fig roles on their runs. Must give them a try. I’m taking gummy bears on my run and always feel like I wanted something more substantial. Should also try the dried fruit. I looove dried mango!

        Good luck with your race in 3 weeks!!!!

      • Thanks! And I hope your training (and race, obviously) go well too! Sounds like a good one.

        Gummy things, after a while, get hard to chew. And then hard to swallow. And then I feel like I’m burning more calories just trying to eat the damn things than I’m getting from them. We basically do not get on..

  3. NICE. Though I only did it once, I definitely felt awesome the day that I ran past the marathon distance as a training run. Definitely tossed my index fingers in the air and did a little private dance at that exact moment. But I did it all in flat roads — your hills definitely put you through a lot more. Cold aside, I think you’re in great shape for the ultra circuit. Keep it up!

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