Lairig Ghru and Orkney

My second year at the Lairig Ghru was disappointing. Mainly because I felt I had not ran at my best in 2012 with a time of 4.35, and had hoped to consign that time to the bin with a better one. The odds were favourable – much better conditions this year, and a bit of a wind funnelling up through the pass to push the runners through. It was not to be; a good, well-paced start for the first 8 miles to Derry Lodge was positive. To get anywhere near 4 hours, you need to do this leg around the hour. I was fine till then, with just over an hour,  but began to quickly unravel as stomach cramps took hold not long after that point. I think a gel kicked this off, but I seem to have underlying problems with getting my race nutrition right on long races, as I had a similar issue with Edinburgh Marathon. Very frustrating.

There was nothing else for it but to grimly hang on in there and plod from about 12 to 27 miles, with the odd brief walk for respite. Concentration was not good on the rocky and very uneven surface, every single footfall required more focus and concentration than I could give, and as a result I went over on my ankle a few times, and came close to a few face-planting episodes. Unbelievably relieved to reach the finish line, at 4:41, some 6 minutes slower than last year. The other club runners did well, with Ian Sills doing a sub 4 hour and a few others not far over the 4 hour mark, notable mention to Rhona who did 4.14 – she is in fantastic form.

I may consider one more long race this year – perhaps a road marathon…..make or break. If it’s a carbon copy of my previous two, then that may be the confirmation I need to consider having a break for a year or so and just try focussing on some different, shorter runs for a while?

I was glad to have a weeks holiday after a further night in Braemar at which we loosened off with some post-race celebrations and then Theresa and I headed back up to Orkney for some r & r. We stayed at St Mary’s (not far from Theresa’s old family home) and had a good time chilling out, catching up with friends/relatives, fishing and even managed a couple of recovery runs, cycling and swimming.

A few pics from the race, and then some from Orkney. The rather industrial buildings in the pics below are part of the Hoxa Head WW2 Battery – the southern entrance to Scapa Flow. A fascinating array of interesting WW2 defence infrastructure – buildings for 4″ and 6″ guns, magazine, searchlights (with rusted runners pictured), machine gun posts etc. A stark reminder of not so long ago.

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