The first proper race day of the year was Glentress trail marathon. I had done a few wee short races but this was a wee tester and a good long tough training run which would give a bit of a gauge as to how I was feeling. I had been doing a wee bit more climbing than I normally would do, and although I always feel weak on the hills and get passed by everyone and their dug, I was interested to see how I'd get on. As is my specialty, I had missed just about every planned long run on my plan, for a mixture of reasons. Although this is probably the first time I've missed them for reasons other than I couldn't be arsed.
Anyway...I'd had a pretty rubbish training week in the week leading up to this, and was keen to get a decent weeks training in on the week of the race, and hopefully run on semi tired legs, which I succeeded in doing.
Race day came and me and Allan set off from Dumbarton about 0715 ish, arriving there about 9. The weather was perfect, little wind, clear skies, and a few degrees above freezing. This meant the course wouldn't be chewed up with much mud, and it had been sunny all week so little snow also. I opted to run in the Inov-8 X talons (which I spoke about in my previous blog). Given the perfect conditions I could have went with my Inov8 Race Ultras which would have maybe been a little more comfy, and I didn't require the extra grip. But they were good as ever and I have no complaints over my choice on the day. I didn't have any hopes going into the race, other than feeling decent throughout.
The countdown started and at 10 bells we were off. A wee cheeky downhill for 20 seconds doesn't give an accurate insight into whats ahead. 2 loops of 2500ft climbing over single track, fire roads, switchbacks and mountain bike trails. More trail porn than anyone could hope for in a mornings run anyway.
It starts with a gentle climb and I was happy for loads of folk to leave me in their dust, and settle into a comfy pace. Even early in the race some of the downhills are quad shredding, I wasn't paying much attention at one downhill and crashed pretty hard. I was up as quick as I was down incase anyone seen me - but it meant me nursing a sore knee and hip for the rest of the race which was not fun on the rest of the downhills! I was trying to count and I think I was as low as 18th after a few miles. I aimed to complete the first loop in about 1:50 ish, and I maintained a very easy effort for the loop, walked the steeeeep uphill, and got back to the start in 12th position, in a time of 1:49 and change (whoooop). I had noted a few points where I would pick up the pace on the second loop, and hoped to pass a few people on those sections. I knew I would slow a bit (see above lack of long runs), but it wasn't too rough. I was aware I was slightly slower on the climbs, but I was putting a decent effort in on the flats and downhills and started to pass people. As the climbs went up and up, the pain in the quads was well worth it as we were rewarded with awesome views and crystal clear skies.
The miles passed very quickly for me in the second half, and I picked up several places within a few miles. I know I'm way down on a podium spot, but it's all good and I'm wanting a decent training run, as opposed to a race. However, as to anyone who knows me...I can't resist a race. I love it. I love throwing everything down and going all out against someone, be it for 1st or 30th, I just love racing. So as I was going up the swtichbacks under the trees, I see 2 runners in front, and I pass one pretty quickly, and catch the other one. I stay in his shadow and plan to pass on the flat or the downhill. But he has other plans. He tore away on the downhill and on this occasion I just couldn't match the speed to put a burst in. I don't recall the other runners name but it was a great effort at the end of a tough shift and well deserved, and was good to watch from a distance. I'm still a bit off mentally to dig deep in races, and this is something I need to work on for races so early in the season. But that's the way I am if I treat a race as a training run, and talk myself into it from entry day so I'm not worried, and I know I can zone in to races that I chose to put the mental energy into. But, well beaten in a wee sprint off in the closing miles.
In the end I finished in 6th position in a time of 3:47. I was pretty happy with this, but more happy that I ran what I felt was a decent run. My legs weren't goosed at the end, I felt good throughout and I was able to walk hobble free, unlike my usual post race zombie march.
For the pre race breakfast this time I opted for porridge with Almond and coconut milk, with a wee bit of granola. Apart from that, the entire day was fueled by Tailwind which sorted me right out. For those who haven't tried this, which I'm sure isn't many, it's an amazing fuel for both races and training. No drops in energy, no stitches, no need to constantly be near a toilet. Plus it tastes awesome. I usually like to back it up with some solids during the really long stuff, but for a cheeky wee marathon there is no need at all for that. Go tailwind!!!
This is twice I've turned up at this race, and the first I've finished. 2016 I chucked it after 1 loop, so it was good to finally clear the 2 year slagging off I'v had for wearing the race T shirt that I never earned. For those who haven't ran this, the race has everything and is a great event so early in the year that will surely test the winter training.
The switchbacks are awesome, downhills tricky and rocky with the ankle grabbing heather ready to bring you to a crash if you aren't paying attention (I wasn't - ouch), the climbs are tough and the views awesome, if you're the type of person who like to look around during races.
See you next year to skelp my time!!