Run Training, Ultra Style

“I pay no attention whatsoever to anybody’s praise or blame. I simply follow my own feelings.”

– Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

I was thirty-seven kilometres into my long run on Sunday when I started to feel a little peckish. In an uncharacteristic move for this time of year (when I should normally be found pottering about some mountain range on Sunday mornings), I had simply rolled out of bed a few hours earlier and made my way from village to sleepy village along the local long-distance coastal path. One distinct benefit of this was in my moment of hunger, I found myself surrounded by a plethora of shops, cafes and takeaway restaurants. Thus, it didn’t take long before my journey saw me power-hiking along the waterfront while merrily chomping into a veggie burger, that classing “relentless forward progress” mentality firmly embraced.

Naturally, that was also the precise moment when my path was crossed by an acquaintance.

“Is THIS what you do when you say you are out running?”

While I can understand her bewilderment, I’m afraid to confess that at the time my response was limited to a feeble attempt to defend my actions, which – hindered by a mouthful of veggie burger – came out as nothing more than an incomprehensible mumble.

It was only when she was long past that I embraced the truth of the matter. Actually, my answer should have been: “YES! This is exactly what I do when I say I’m out running.”

And what is more, I am not even ashamed.

In other news, I did not get a place in the London Marathon. I’m thinking that may be a good thing; it may be the biggest party on earth, but I’m just not sure how the organisers would feel about me stopping for a pub lunch half way around the course…

Shake

Magical Places

Running has taken me in and continues to comfort, heal, and challenge me in all kinds of magical ways. I am not a good runner because I am me, I am a good me because I am a runner.

– Kristin Armstrong

 

?????????

 

 

These last few weeks have seen me temporarily knocked out of action by a nasty chest infection and a mighty cough… however, the call of the wild is never far from my mind, I’m back on my feed again and am continuing my forward progress – more soon!

Run happy!

Into the Footprints of Legends

“Lives of great men all remind us, we can make our lives sublime, and, departing, leave behind us, footprints on the sands of time.”

– Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

 BGR Robinson

(Getting that “feet in the clouds” feeling!)

Last weekend, my world was centred on a little holiday flat in the Lake District, where thirteen of us had gathered for what promised to be an unforgettable weekend. Armed only with our fell running shoes, a wooden relay baton, a plethora of maps and timetables and a seemingly endless supply of crisps and cookies, we had joined forces in order to take on the mighty Billy Bland Challenge (a relay of the infamous Bob Graham Round).

The location of our base camp could not have been more fitting for our amazing adventures, as we stayed on the dreamy shores of Ullswater and in the shadow of Helvellyn, one of the highest mountains in England. The latter had a special meaning for me, as in 2010 I had attempted to climb the mountain in winter but due to deteriorating weather conditions had abandoned my bid for the summit shortly before reaching Swirral ridge – only to find out the next day that two walkers had died on the mountain shortly after I had made my retreat. The experience served as a sobering reminder that we must always respect the mountains (as an extension of nature in general).

But just before we embarked on our very own running adventure across the fells of the Lake District, it just so happened that someone else’s were coming to their own incomprehensibly epic conclusion. On the same night that saw us enjoying our pre-run pasta orgy in Glenridding, Steve Birkinshaw was due to complete his titanic run of all the Wainwrights; a route which saw him running a total of 515 km (320 miles), across the summits of 214 fells with a total ascend of 36,000 m (118,000 ft). I genuinely can’t think of any adjectives that could adequately enhance my description of this truly epic feat, so I’ll just leave you with the facts and trust that your minds will boggle just like mine has done (and still does!). He completed the round in 6 days and 13 hours, and in doing so not only broke Joss Naylor’s record which has stood since 1987, but also raised many thousands of pounds for individuals with Multiple Sclerosis, a condition which his sister suffers. I wouldn’t have missed the chance to see him finish his incredible journey for the world, so late at night, when everyone else was being sensible by climbing into their bunk beds and sleeping bags, I made my way to the Moot Hall in Keswick to cheer this legend of a man across the finish line.

Steve Birkinshaw

(A night to remember: the legend that is Steve Birkinshaw)

So when Louise and I (cheered on by the rest of the team) found ourselves standing on the steps of the very same Moot Hall the next morning with our minds on a mission to blaze the trail of Bob Graham to Honister Pass (i.e. leg one of an anti-clockwise Bob Graham round), I can’t deny that it felt rather iconic and special. We were about to step into the footsteps of many, many incredible athletes who have tested themselves on the fells of the Lake District before us.

Our original plan was to begin our journey at 7am, but because we were all a bit nervous, we did what nervous runners do best, and at 6:45 we all embarked on a warm-up relay to and from the parking lot loos, which we finished in an official record time of 20 minutes.

Then, finally, at 7:05, Louise and I dashed off down the High Street of Keswick, which much to our general amusement elicited precisely absolutely no reaction whatsoever from the locals who were setting up their market stalls. Clearly, they are used to this kind of behaviour from obsessive fell runners and have taken to politely ignoring it. Our plan was to blast along the 6 mile road section to the base of our first hill as fast as we could; an objective which we more or less achieved, despite two seriously adversarial forces acting against us. Firstly, the “road” we were running would be the perfect setting for a most masochistic hill sprint workout, and the sun itself had risen with a fierce determination to fry us up for breakfast at 7am.

BGR leaving Keswick

(And we are off!)

But we kept our heads down and carried on, and soon enough we reached the base of Robinson. A stiff climb and a scramble later, we stood at the summit of our first fell. From then on, the going was a lot easier, and we could simply cruise along the flanks of the mountains to the next summit on our route, Hindscarth.

Although our task was to keep shifting, I still had plenty of time to enjoy the stunning views from the top of the world. The sun was out to get us with a vengeance, despite it still being very early in the morning. Dripping in sweat, we were near the summit of Hindscarth when we commented on the fact that we seemingly had the fells to ourselves that morning.

BGR Hindscarth

(Reaching for the sky)

I can only assume that it was precisely because we said these words out loud that we encountered at least 50 hill walkers on the summit of Dale Head. They were all wearing event numbers and were very official looking. On the plus side, though, I can’t deny that a very wicked part of me derived a great about of pleasure and satisfaction in charging past them down the slopes of the mountain.

Although I was a little sad to not have spent more time in the mountains, it was awesome to be welcomed and cheered into Honister Pass by our team after 2 hours and 34 minutes. We exchanged some quick hugs and cheered and hollered the next two runners up the steep slope of Grey Knotts. The running part of my journey was over as quickly as it had begun.

And breathe. I returned to the headquarters and showered and ate cookies and crisps until I felt vaguely human again. Back on the ground, the atmosphere was abuzz with maps and timetables and code text message such as “Pillar 12:03”. However, there wasn’t much more for me to do at this point; as I was a last minute addition to the team, I had not been planned in for any duties in terms of logistics or support. I felt a little bit bad about that, but upon eating my eights cooking of the day I remembered how nice it felt to be cheered on at Honister Pass and decided to nominate myself as the official team cheerleader.

As it was, the official cheerleader started by failing miserably at the first hurdle. I sadly missed the next handover entirely; partially because eating cookies took longer than I thought, and Wasdale Pass happens to be a long drive away from the shores of Ullswater. But most importantly, Caroline and Louise had seemingly soared across the fells and had covered their part of the route in a magnificently quick 4 hours and 6 minutes!

There was not much for me to do but to guard and periodically quality control the cookies and crisps at operation headquarters for the rest of the afternoon, look at more maps – or rather, the same maps over and over again. Slowly and subtly, I felt a shift in the mood of our little troupe…  At the start of the day, our general agreement had been to just enjoy the challenge and see what happens. However, due to the fact that we were covering the ground faster than we thought, by the time dusk arrived it began to dawn upon us that there was a possibility that we could complete the challenge in 24 hours…

I’m pleased to report that the official cheerleader was actually present at Dunmail Raise, where I witnessed the very exciting descend of Anita and Liz on the tricky slopes of Steel Fell and cheered to be best of my abilities when they handed the baton over at 8:13 pm. I won’t deny that I felt a little envious when I watched Moira and Cathy trek into the sunset; the gorgeous day was promising to turn into an even more stunning night for us all.

But for now, we headed back to headquarters for about an hour of sleep and more crisps and cookies. A few hours later, we got a text message (“Clough Head 0:52”) which sent us driving across the Lake District at a speed that would surely have left Buzz Lightyear a little green around the nose, as the leg 4 runners had kept to the general pattern of the day and had exceeded all expectations. The final handover at Threlkeld was rushed and there wasn’t much cheering either, despite the presence of the world’s worst cheerleader. It turns out that apart from those who are loopy enough to take on the Bob Graham loop, most people in the Lake District prefer to sleep in silence around 2 am in the morning.

BGR Night

(Sleepy cheering on the verge of dawn)

If I was jealous of the evening runners, it was nothing compared to what I felt when I saw the headlights of Ally and Charlotte fade onto the slopes of Blencathra. Despite the fact that it was stupid o’clock, the first signs of light were glistering on the horizon and the night was illuminated by a sickle moon.

Another hour of sleep and more cookies and crisps and brewing over maps at operation headquarters later, the joyous text message of “Skiddaw 6:03” sent us all on our way to Keswick once more.

Now, I realise that there is nothing that can possibly excuse what I did next. I would nevertheless like to reiterate that it was very early in the morning indeed, and those of your who know me should realise by now that I cannot be passed for a human being before 10:30 am on any given day. I’d enjoyed a full two hours of sleep during the previous night and had left the flat before even contemplating breakfast (apart from crisps and cookies, but I stopped counting them long ago). Furthermore, I had not taken anything with me, as my plan was to head up Skiddaw to meet the last runners, fulfil my cheering duties and accompany them on the last kilometre of their journey, perhaps offering to carry one of their backpacks down the mountain.

It was another glorious morning, and a zombiefied me greatly enjoyed a little morning jog out of Keswick and up into the mountains once more. I stopped after about 20 minutes of climbing and turned around to marvel at the views of yet another magnificent break of day. Beneath me, Derwent Water lay sleepily in the valley, and a glance to the right revealed the inviting flank of mighty Skiddaw… Wait, what? Embarrassingly slowly it dawned upon me that this made no sense at all. Why was Skiddaw on my right? No person in the world with a sense of direction vaguely superior to that of a piece of plywood (or myself for that matter) would journey from Skiddaw down to Keswick via the peak of Latrigg, which is where I had finally derived that I must be standing…

Having sacrificed my dignity at dawn to the sun god on the wrong mountain top – not to mention the fact that there was now absolutely no doubt whatsoever that I had earned myself the world’s worst cheerleader badge – I commenced my trot of shame back to the Moot Hall in Keswick, where in a very awkward twist of events, the final runners were the ones who were waiting for me.

Ally and Charlotte had made it back to Keswick at 7:11 am, which meant that we have completed the Billy Bland Challenge in 24 hours and 6 minutes! Naturally, all of us simultaneously blurted out all sorts of suggestions of how we could have run our particular leg a little faster. I’m sure we can do it, although I’m not quite sure how, as everyone talking at the same time isn’t conducive to actually taking anything in. In reality, I can safely say that nobody was even remotely disappointed. I think the challenge so immense that an old cliché couldn’t have been more true; the journey had meant more to us than the destination ever could. Besides, it just means that we will have to do it all again next year!

BGR_Moot Hall

(Full circle: 7am (again) at the Moot Hall (again)!)

I want to take this opportunity to say a massive thank you to my fellow runners:  Louise, Caroline, Lou B, Liz, Anita, Moira, Cathy, Ally and Charlotte. You ladies are amazing! Also, we couldn’t have done this without our incredible support crew, consisting of Adrian, Bill and Graham; all of whom possess athletic prowess that put us all to shame but who were nevertheless more than willing to just support us and let us enjoy our moment. Thank you all for letting me be part of this adventure, for a wonderful weekend of teamwork and for being part of memories which I am sure will stay with me for a very long time!

As for little old me, my own journey was not quite over yet. Despite the severe lack of sleep and directionally challenged start to the day, I felt ready and downright needing to embrace the last day in the Lake District. Thus, I turned to face the shadow behind us. A nice and easy jog up Helvellyn seemed like a fitting way to take some time to reflect upon and celebrate my own journey in these mountains.

Helvellyn summit

(Relaxing on the summit of Helvellyn: A wild kind of relaxation.)

After scrambling down Striding Ridge, I once again couldn’t resist the pull of gravity and blazed down the mountain with legs as fresh as they had felt the morning before. About half-way through my charge down the mountain, a middle aged man stepped aside a I passed him and saluted me.

“I wish I could do what you are doing”, he said. I stopped and turned to look at the summit of Helvellyn behind me, with the Red Tarn at its base and the two dramatic ridges leading to peak. In comparison to the day before, it all seemed to tame now.

“Why don’t you?” I smiled back at him. He told me that he “only” runs marathons, and I told him that I find marathons really, really hard! Then, in a moment of supreme immaturity (because some things never change), I blurted out, to a complete stranger, on the slopes of a mountain, what we had been up to the day before.

His response? He shook my hand. It doesn’t matter how far you run, or how fast, or on what surface. Runners just get each other.

 

“While it is well enough to leave footprints on the sands of time, it is even more important to make sure they point in a commendable direction.”

– James Branch Cabell

Running with Spirits of Bob and Billy

I’m currently wondering just how many times I can begin a post with the words: “You guys, I’ve done it again…”

While I love my e-mail spam folder, I’m so glad that it doesn’t just gobble up every unexpected message. Last week I got one message I would have hated to have missed. I don’t know if I should be flattered or alarmed by the fact that when a runner was needed to step up to a hill running challenge of epic proportions at a few days’ notice, someone thought of little old me. Even more concerning, perhaps, is the fact that I agreed to jump on board in a heartbeat.

Somehow, I may have just agreed to join what promises to be a supremely well organised Billy Bland Challenge run. This weekend. I should probably be wondering how I keep getting myself into these (running) situations, but instead, I’m once again just super excited!

lake-district-3(The stunning fells of the Lake District are calling!)

For those of you who haven’t heard of the Billy Bland Challenge or Bob Graham Round, I think it’s fair to say that it’s the holy grail to many long distance hill runners in this part of the world. It all started back in 1932, when a fellow named Bob Graham went on a long hill run in the Lake District and managed to bag 42 peaks (with a whopping 27,000 foot of total ascend) in just under 24 hours. Despite many subsequent attempts, this feat was not repeated until 1960, when Alan Heaton traversed the same peaks in an even shorter time. Since then, a number of notable runners have been able to repeat this achievement. The fastest known time for completion of the Bob Graham round is an unbelievable 13:53 hours, achieved  by Billy Bland in 1982. The ladies record is a very respectable 18:12 hours, run by the awesome Nicky Spinks in 2012. Earlier this year, the legendary American ultra runner Scott Jurek completed the Bob Graham round, with only 16 minutes to spare…

If it’s run as a relay, the Bob Graham Round is called the Billy Bland Challenge. The ultimate goal is still to complete the round in under 24 hours. If it’s an official attempt at the challenge, a total of ten runners are needed; five legs are run by two runners each.

I’m currently trying to figure out what one needs to pack for a weekend of running mayhem and very little sleep. I’ve packed some clothes, an air mattress, a sleeping bag and enough food and drink to feed a small army should we need to invade the lakes instead. And all that remains to be done then, is to make it through work tomorrow, get in the car, and head south… What a way to spend a summer weekend.

I will, of course, report on the outcome of my latest running escapade early next week. But for now, I have to run (literally!)…

“The most important thing in the Billy Bland Challenge is not winning but taking part; the essential thing in life is not conquering but fighting well.”

– Pierre de Coubertin

Bob Graham Round

Running Into The Record Books

Yesterday I ran my leg of the Great British Relay. Although I really enjoyed being part of this world record attempt, the run itself was stupidly tough for me for some reason. I just couldn’t get my legs moving, so the whole 8 miles were a battle. I suspect that my legs have not yet forgotten the long and hilly runs we did over the course of the weekend… I was so happy to run in the company of some truly great runners who kept me going. We made it (just) in time and the deed is done – and it was so lovely to be part of something larger!

GBR

Reaching the Sky

“It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.”

– Sir Edmund Hillary

Alright, East Lomond isn’t exactly Mount Everest. And I’m definitely not Sir Edmund Hillary. But last week, for the first time ever, I managed to run all the way up to the summit of East Lomond (448 m).

East Lomond

I love the Lomond hills, I run there often and I’ve stood at the summit of the peaks many times. But parts of the ascent are incredibly steep and thus far my journey there inevitably involved at least some power hiking. But no more – on Friday, I finally ran all the way up to the top! It wasn’t fast, and it certainly wasn’t pretty, but to me it represented something that I genuinely never thought I’d be able to do. I must confess that I revelled in my victory so much that the descent involved a rather embarrassing outburst of that celebratory “pretending-I’m-an-airplane” running style.

Do you have any running challenges that might seem impossible but that you are determined to conquer regardless?

Runners – We Get Each Other

Last week, I made a mistake when I dared to moan about how busy that particular week was turning out to be. Little did I know that it was merely a warm-up for this current week, and I am now suffering minor calamities on all fronts in my life. However, I am happy to report that I’m still, somehow, standing in the middle of it all. Unfortunately thought, in between keeping all the fires in my life under control (at times literally!) I simply haven’t found the time/words/sanity to compose a remotely coherent blog post.

However, while my life keeps on merrily getting in the way of everything, I am by no means inactive. Waking up on Monday morning with a trapped nerve in my back, a glorious morning run turned accidental bonk training, the official start of my ultramarathon training cycle, running in shorts and a vest and feeling delightfully warm in the evening sun, getting excited about the first reconnaissance run of the ultra trail route this Saturday and debating just how stupid it would be to race a half marathon the day after a 24 mile trail run are just some of the things going in on my running life that are all worthy of their own blog posts.

Runners get each other

However, while I was busy not blogging, the wonderful community of running bloggers has reached out to me regardless. Firstly, I was surprised and delighted to find that I was one of the top three distance runners in Kylabee’s Around the World Running Blog Relay. I absolutely love following and contributing to this event – it’s great to see how far we are running together! I received a surprise e-mail from Kyla asking for my address, as she wants to send me a little something in the mail – I’m really touched and super excited about that!

Secondly, you might remember from earlier posts that Tartan Jogger and I exchanged our running tunes a few weeks ago and had a lot of fun in the process. We are now swapping with two other running bloggers, Kylabee and the Running Princess. I have received an mp3 player full of running tunes and pampering kit from the Running Princess this week, and let me tell you: it’s so awesome! She’s an electric girl and my feet have never been happier with all the pampering they have received thanks to the goodies she has sent!

Allison(Goody bag from the Running Princess)

There are several other bloggers who I’d love to personally acknowledge here for their friendship and support, and I’m thinking that this is the stuff for yet another post that I shall write when I happen to stumble upon a little pocket of free time. I have no words to describe how amazing this community of running bloggers is – thank you all so much for your supreme awesomeness!

Finally, there was yet another little running surprise in store for me today. I was enjoying the current copy of Runner’s World Magazine while soaking in a post-run bath this evening, when I happened to read about… myself?

RW (That’s me in the bottom right bubble)

Apparently, I’m now a public calamity (and oddity). I really had no idea that Facebook comments could end up published in the magazine, but it certainly made me giggle!

Chasing Spring To (And Around) Rome

“The first day of spring is one thing, and the first spring day is another.”

– Henry van Dyke

I don’t know about you guys, but I celebrated the spring equinox with a big, sweet chunk of chocolate cake. It’s official: winter is over! In fact, I made it a double slice: one for the celebration and one because I’m carb-loading for the Rome Marathon. You can probably imagine my disappointment, when bonny Scotland fathomed a hailstorm during yesterday’s tempo run. Maybe I should have eaten the cake outside all while shouting “It’s Spring!” to the world, as my country evidently hasn’t gotten the message yet.

As such, my imminent journey to Rome can almost be considered an act of rebellion against the still very wintry storms we are experiencing up here, rather than an indulgent spring vacation. Either way, I’m so childishly thrilled that I have to keep reminding myself that some people find celebratory dances inappropriate in public.

I’m in for a long weekend of warmer, longer days (best enjoyed with ice-cream and a good friend!), meandering around countless ancient sites, enjoying meals of pasta and red vine in the evening sun and all topped off with a marathon on Sunday morning. Seriously, does it get any better? So far, I’m pleased to report that I have actually tapered (at least kind of; let’s not mention the half-marathon I raced last weekend!), that I have so far resisted any urges to shoot for a crazy race time in the Rome marathon and that I fully have embraced the carb loading.

They say that sooner or later everyone finds their way to the eternal city. I’m only hoping that spring has stumbled upon the road to Rome as well.

Rome Spring

When The Fastest Way To Get There Is To Go Slow

Well, this is a bit awkward. I’m currently trying to figure out a strategy for running a slow marathon. Yes, you’ve read that right; this time next week, I’ll be heading to Rome in order to run a very leisurely 26.2 mile loop around the eternal city.

Where most runners would be planning a race strategy and pacing plan that will allow them to shave a few seconds off their personal best time, I’m actively trying to figure out a path which will lead me to a new personal worst. I will be most upset with anything better than that.

I promise there is madness to my method. Firstly, I have run my socks off at a half marathon last weekend, and although I can’t feel it in my legs at all, I still want to give my body a chance to fully recover without demanding another endurance race straight away. This is especially important given that my next target race is a 55 mile ultramarathon in June; that is, only three months away now. And because ultras don’t run themselves, I want to be able to hurl myself into training for the monstrosity when I return from Rome, rather than having to make room for extensive recovery time from my latest racing folly.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the Rome marathon is notorious for following a downright amazing route, which passes the Colosseum, the Spanish Steps, the Trevi Fountain, the Vatican and countless other monuments, landmarks and cool stuff. I’d rather enjoy the truly awesome scenery than spend my time alternately focussing my attention on the extent of the pain in my abs and the numbers flashing on my watch.

slowdown

So having decided that I’ll go slow, all that’s left to do now is to figure out just how slow I want to go and how to achieve this.

Given my recent half-marathon race time, I should be able run the big 26.2 in about 3:30 if I were to attack it. Therefore, I have decided that I shall be most upset if I run the Rome marathon in anything under four hours. I honestly don’t care how long it takes me to reach the finish line, as long as it’s over that threshold.

Here are some of the specific things that I can do to ensure that my pace remains leisurely:

  1. Before the race begins, I’ll line up a couple of pens back from the one I have been allocated into, hoping that the slower moving masses will rein in any potential outbursts of speedy stupidity on my part.
  2. Once the race starts, I will make sure that my start is very slow indeed. I might even walk the first kilometre or so, just to make sure that all my splits are “terrible”. My theory is that this will drastically reduce the possibility of committing an act of idiocy after glancing at my watch at the 10/20/21.1/30km marker.
  3. I’ll be a good tourist. I shall study the route extensively on the three hour flight to Rome, so that during the race I can focus my attention and energy on spotting as many landmarks as possible. My camera might also make an appearance or two.
  4. I solemnly swear that I will walk through the aid stations. All of them.
  5. Should my watch, at any point, indicate that I’m running faster than 5:41/km (4 hour marathon) pace, I have to immediately perform a 100m walk of shame.
  6. Should I spot the 4:00 pacer at any point during the race, I’ll have to walk until the 4:15 pacer makes an appearance, using the time to think about what I’ve done.

Have you ever aimed for a minimum time in a race? Do you have any tips?

Pampered Feetsies (Can Outrun The Bombsquad)

A few weeks ago, the wonderful Tartan Jogger and I thought it would be fun to swap our running music playlists.

But rather than being all boring and lazy about it (and just e-mailing a list of all the songs), we decided to spice things up a little: each of us bought an mp3 player, uploaded our unedited running tunes (yes, including the embarrassing ones) and posted it the other person.

Image

When I got home from work yesterday, I found a little parcel waiting for me and was surprised to find that it was rather bigger than your average mp3 player! The reason for this is that Tartan Jogger had included not just the mp3 player, but also an entire pampering kit for my tortured feet – including a soothing and cooling gel, soft socks and nail varnish – wonderful! After racing my socks off on Sunday, this wonderful present could not have been more timely or perfect!

My pampered feet have been recovering surprisingly well from the race, and I have been enjoying some lovely recovery bouncing to Tartan Jogger’s music on the coastal paths. It’s been extremely fun and refreshing to run to someone else’s tunes, with no idea what to expect and what song might come on next. I can confirm that so far all of her songs have put a definite spring in my step – it’s a fantastic playlist for running.

It’s really fun to discover new songs, re-discover old ones, find the odd tune we have in common and, perhaps most importantly, decide that several of these songs need to be added to my own playlist as a matter of urgency!

Incidentally, while trail running to Tartan Joggers tunes this evening, I first accidentally photo-bombed a professional shoot and was then, in turn, pursued by a bomb squad. Let me explain… My first clue that something was amiss came in the form of a number of “Rescue” vehicles parked at an accessible stretch of the trail. Not wanting to bother the men in uniform, I simply continued my run, blissfully cruising along an undulating trail between the beach and a golf-course. A kilometre or so later, I passed a rather suspiciously large group of golfers. With laptops, and cables and strobes. They were polite enough to only roll their eyes at me, almost patiently, as I blazed my trail between the photographers and the golfer models – ooops!

Not wanting to gatecrash the professionals again, I left the golf course and headed for some higher trails, which cross various little hills and forests on the way back. But after rambling on for 10 kilometres or so, I eventually had to cross the golf course again in order to get back to my car. That’s when I ran into more men in uniform, this time looming around vehicles with “Bomb Disposal” written all over them in big navy letters. What followed were some frantic radio communications and me repeatedly confirming that each and every sighting of the jogger – runner! I corrected them! dammit! – was in fact, yours truly. “Yes, we’ve got her,” the man shouted at his radio. It turns out they had been trying to find me for the better part of the previous hour. They asked me politely to wait with them for 10 minutes before returning to my car, and then – BOOOOOOOM! – the earth trembled.

Image

Seriously, who else has been stopped by the police while running a race, and a mere two days later leads the bomb disposal squad on a cat-and-mouse hunt in the Scottish wilderness? Really, I couldn’t make this up. I think that my inner running ninja wants to come out and play.

I hope that Tartan Jogger, who received my running tunes (as well as a little wild running experience kit) about a week ago, will have many wild, weird and wonderful adventures while running to my music as well. I think I can speak for both of us when I say we’ve had wicked fun with this experience. I tip my hat to you, Tartan Jogger – thank you for all the fun!

In anyone else is interested in swapping running music playlists, please feel free to speak up! Perhaps we can arrange a running bloggers music exchange.