The opposite ended up happening for both races - Jedburgh was extremely hard work, a struggle throughout the entire race, and Loch Ness was a chilled steady run against a backdrop of beautiful weather and a sparkling loch. So I thought I'd compare and contrast the two little adventures:
PREP & PLANS
|The camping barn in Fort Augustus|
Loch Ness - A two week holiday ending with a night camping in a chilly Fort Augustus barn with rain battering the roof may not have been the best precurser to a happy race but I knew my recent hilly, weather-battered runs on Mull would be good prep. Plus having having run Loch Ness as my first marathon in 2009, I had a good feel for what to expect, and the forecast was looking good for Sunday. My main plan was just to take it easy, run steady and finish under 4 hours feeling comfortable and with no achilles pain.
Jedburgh - Similarly, I hoped running Loch Ness at the end of September followed by a few weekends of tough, hilly Pentland runs afterwards would serve as a good base endurance for Jedburgh. Having not trained on the route at all it was hard to know what to expect but I had a good look at the route online and through John Kynaston's recce vid - leaving no excuse for what happened during the race! To suss out a time goal, I compared it with the Speyside Way ultra which also had a fair few ups and downs and was just a few miles shorter at 35 miles, and give myself a 7 hour aim.
Loch Ness - a shaky start, as the crowds of runners streaming out of the 37 buses made for a frustrating queue to the start line, and with 10 minutes to the start, the portaloos were a complete no go. Julie and I lost each other and I worried she wouldn't have made it to the start on time and would be beginning the run under stress. I started in the 3.30 group which quickly turned into a bottleneck and it took a few minutes to get going, past the pair of pipers who set us off. I'll spare you the mile by mile monotony but after a quick loo stop at mile 3 I got into the stride and was feeling good, with plenty of energy and enthusiasm for the run - the sunshine streaming down on the loch helped. I have no excuse having run the race before but was surprised again by the number of undulations from early on that didnt seem to show up in the route profile. After the long hill at mile18, I was feeling pressure down my right hamstring and the old glute pain had returned. It didn't worsen though, so I ticked the miles off slowly until the memorable run into Inverness and over the bridge to the seemingly endless strip on the other side to finish in Bught Park.
|Karl Zeiner & I: pearly white before mudfest|
I ran alone again for a few miles afterwards, and took a good body slam into the mud on the track through the forest after the third peak. I was covered in mud with a few bloody scrapes which made for an interesting marble effect on the legs. I think I even shouted 'Right, that's it, I'm done!' at the trees before breaking into a run again to channel the mud anger into something useful.
|From the Eildons|
KIT & FUEL
My trusty OMM waist pack toughed it out with me throughout Jedburgh, and survived well despite being slammed into the mud. Its super light but spacious - one of my favourite pieces of kit at the moment. I cant say the same for the Under Armour top - yes, in white - which was also thrown into mud and attacked by brambles and is still lying sadly in the washing basket. And never again will I be wearing road shoes in conditions like that....especially not when I have 4 decent pairs of trails at home! What was I thinking? Fuel-wise the race was uneventful - I ate regularly without problems - homemade chia/cranberry flapjacks, banana, coke, gels - and drank mainly electrolytes - flavoured by mud post-fall.
Loch Ness was also uneventful fuel/kit-wise, but it was a dream to run light with a pocket full of gels and a handheld bottle. The race being sponsored by Clif, I just picked up additional gels along the route, although I wasnt impressed when I managed to grab the strongest caffeine variety going pretty early on - not a good plan.
RESULTS & RECOVERY
|Julie and I pre-Loch Ness|
Loch Ness - I finished feeling good despite the glute pain and seizing up which was to come during the car journey home. At 3.42 I was a minute under my previous Loch Ness time and largely happy with the way it unfolded. Guy Van Herp sorted me out after in physio by cracking my sacroiliac joint in my hip back into place, which he said had been jammed and would have been affecting my hamstring. Julie ran a real beauty of a race for her first marathon coming in at just minutes over 4 hours and raising over £600 for the Scoliosis Society in the process. Well done to that girl.
Jedburgh - after all the issues I was elated to cross the line at all, and even more so to come in at 7.16 as third lady, behind Sharon in second (7.04) and Izzy Knox in first (6.46). The organisers made us laugh as they whipped us immediately on to the podium wanting to get the prizegiving done, despite me being absolutely caked in mud. The race directors and marshalls really were amazing throughout and kept us going with so much encouragement. Well done to them all, and everyone else who ran and supported.
On Saturday I'm running Glen Ogle 33, which will be the first time I've run two ultras on consecutive weeks - not intentional but Glen Ogle gave me a place from the waiting list after I'd signed up to Jedburgh. Hopefully a good way to end the season until January when JOGLE training in earnest will begin - bring it on!