With the sun shining and cold Scottish air starting to lift off the top of the hills, registration complete and number pinned on the T-shirt, it was time to get changed and join my fellow runners for a warm up.
I’ve done this routine loads of times, so why should this be any different? I had to withdraw from the Antonine Trail Race last year due to injury so this year I was going to enjoy the race, embrace the trails and respect the unforgiving hills. Can this be achieved? Of course, as I’ve recovered from last year, manage my cardio through HR monitoring and now take it easier knowing I have arthritis in my knee – phew!
Like other half marathon’s and 10k events done this year, it was final preparations done, race brief done, start line in sight as we lined up with seconds to go. So it begins, one of the toughest trail races on the calendar. 200m into it and already my knees starting to tighten, 400m and the first of the many hills were upon us and 800m I just realised that my Garmin hasn’t started…going to be a long run!
The challenge this year was to half last years phenomenal achievement with ‘DavysRun’ and complete 3 Half Marathon’s and 6 10k races. After not making the team for Invictus Games my focus turned to maintaining fitness and training for both Run The Blades and Antonine Half’s.
Firstly, going way back to February and following a winter recovery programme and the odd cross country run, it was time for the start of my challenge with ‘Run With the Wind’ at Strathaven. A very tough run and for what I remember a great route, fantastic for a winter run and ideal for getting those early miles in.
Following on from a few more 10k races – which I’ll summarise in a future blog nearer the end of the year – can sense another achievement video being done! Here’s a sneaky peak of a few great achievements during these events.
Next up on the half marathon’s event list was one of my favourite events, Run The Blades. I’ve been fortunate to train round Whitelees Windfarm and Lochgoin Loop is a great 8 mile run that can be easily utilised for all types of training. This year my approach was to nail last years time and a possible sub 1:40 half, can this be done on this course? Sure on tarmac yeah I’m more that capable with the right periodisation training, this was different, this was only going to be achieved by how I felt on the day.
As many of you know my summary of this event in July summed up how to execute the perfect race – well almost. Staying with Andy Stewart and many front runners for 10 miles I just knew this was it, feeling great and go for it, before…the sniper got me right behind the knee!
Unfortunately not this race as it wasn’t meant to be, so what followed was the news of arthritis that had been causing the pain and imbalance that my technique had been suffering. This coupled with my recovery from major illness, I sure wasn’t going to admit defeat there. Instead I changed my attitude towards my running and adopted a more relaxed approach – not every run is a race, just enjoy the event and challenge yourself in different ways.
And so began the focus of the ATR, training plan done, loads of strength and conditioning done, with a few more 10k’s to make sure I stayed on track with events. Back training with the club as well paid off as it always does, both mentally and physically.
Antonine Trail Race, very popular with the local runners and very challenging for many a seasoned Ultra runner too. For me the knowledge that this was going to be tough was put to the back of my mind, as I soon settled into the trails and got used to the single track route with the bottlenecks at the start reminding me of Glentress Half Marathon a few years previous.
On the flatter more undulating sections it was great to increase the pace slightly, but equally slowing right down and at certain points having to walk up the hills – just enjoying the glorious scenery that shone through to Glasgow one side and Stirling the other. For many a runner just reaching the top of the hill after 10 miles of unforgiving trails was spectacular!
Great news was I felt the niggles and aches and pains as expected but nothing in the scale as before, so plan has worked. I’ve executed a great run with an ongoing illness and managing arthritic bones, this unbelievable achievement was complete. 3 half’s – done. 👏
Special shout out to a lady that needs no introduction. When you reach a milestone in your life and you decide to celebrate by running not one but five Ultra Marathon’s, including the Highland Fling and the Devil O The Highlands, that sure requires some recognition. Well done Sylvia Mulholland, well deserved Ayrshire Harriers Athlete of the Year…phenomenal achievement! 💪
So what’s next, did I mention 10k? No rest for the wicked just yet as focus now turns to this weekend and it’s off to Edinburgh with The Men’s 10k event, during Men’s Health Awareness Month. This is very close to my heart as it promotes men’s health, in which I’m an ambassador for with various charities.
Keep an eye out for my story reaching social media prior to this event as I was interviewed by the organisers in order to promote the effects of mental health and how this can be overcome by self belief and determination.
I’m looking forward to this one as it’s sure to be a great run and on the day will be emotional due to the nature of the wonderful work these charities do. My tune this week is the fantastic:
Enjoy all and have a great week. 🎶