Happily Ever After

Life in The Rural Retreat with a beautiful wife, three cats, garden wildlife, a camera, a computer – and increasing amounts about running

Earlier posts can be found on Adventures of a Lone Bass Player, where this blog began life. Recent entries can be found here.


Still Struggling With The Stones

by Russell Turner - 11:36 on 21 June 2024

My final Race to the Stones long run is done. The race begins three weeks tomorrow. I’m not optimistic.

An undisrupted training plan would have found me running 55k yesterday. After last week’s 3x10k, my target was a minimum of 30k and a maximum of 45k, accompanied by fellow ultra runner-in-training Anne. The plan was to run 15k from Learnie car park via the Military Road through Milbuie Woods to the Killen road junction where we’d be met by Anne’s husband, Al, who’d transported the snacks and water we’d given him for our first pit stop. From there we’d retrace the route to a second pit stop and more refreshment left in my car. After that we’d split up, me to do as much more as I fancied, she to complete the 37 miles demanded by her much more challenging training plan.

I let Anne lead the way because her natural pace was slower than mine, and it soon became evident that my fast march matched her easy jog. That was fine by me: the pace would still get me to the RTTS finish line inside my 15-18hr target window, in theory with a much more even effort, so I stuck to walking with a few downhill jogs.

My Ultimate Direction vest, filled with most of the things I’d need on race day, was comfortable, and because I was walking the lack of water bottle straws was less of a nuisance. Another look at the UD website a few days ago had revealed that straw tops were now available on their own. I bought two, which arrived the day before the run, and quickly discovered that the “fits all UD bottles” claim was untrue. Fortunately I can get my money back.

Plan B was to use the bottles and straws that Matchgirl had generously loaned, which was when I discovered that when placed in the vest the straws hit me on the cheeks. The need for straws was abandoned.

After weeks of wind, cold and generally miserable conditions, the weather turned just in time for the run. We set off at 9.45 in 16ºC with lots of sun and an occasional light breeze and immediately diverted from the planned route, Anne deciding that a 5k loop around Callachy Hill would be a good warm-up, which meant we’d covered 20k before the first pit stop. I had enough water and energy bars to last the distance, but I was very ready for a cheese sandwich, crisps and a caramel wafer (such goodies being available at RTTS stops) and what turned out to be a 20min break.

By now, what breeze there was had died down and the temperature had risen further, so it might have been a mistake to reroute again, out of the woods, and take the direct route back to Learnie via Killen and a tarmac road with little shade. My legs were doing OK but my two longest toes were suffering, maybe surprised by the unaccustomed long distance walk.

We hit 30k while traversing a hugely (and unexpectedly) overgrown section of path after leaving the main road. Squeezing past gorse bushes which crowded the rough track made it our slowest kilometre of the day. Not much later we reached Learnie, where the temperature had reached 20ºC. We’d done 32.5k in 5:22, including the break – a pleasant and instructive day, even if my legs had now joined the toes in the chorus of complaint, and the backs of my legs were suffering from the sun (the only place I’d forgotten sunscreen).

Anne trotted off to complete her run (she reached 30 miles before a hurty knee slowed her down; she walked the rest) while I had a good drink and creaked my way inside the car. If we’d covered even another 3-4k I might have set off again, after another sandwich break, to reach marathon distance, but the thought of another 10k was too much.

Today, the legs and two toes are sore, and I’m not looking forward to standing at tonight’s Gellions gig, but they should recover soon. However, it feels most likely that the forthcoming RTTS will end again at 50k. Whether I set out intending to do only 50k I’ve yet to decide. Apart from next week’s 15k long run, the most the plan requires for the next three weeks is 5k. Maybe my energy and enthusiasm will return during the taper. Time will tell.

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