trail running

Bowhill duathlon (medium) 2015

My last blog post was about the difficulties of training for events with a one year old in the house and about the virtues of riding just for the fun of it… so how did I get here??


“Here” being the medium length event of the annual Bowhill off-road duathlon series. It doesn’t look at lot like it in that picture but I really enjoyed the event too!

In 2012/13 I took part in the short event just before I got pregnant and had a day of mixed fortunes. There was no chance of taking part in 2013/14 with the wee one only a few months old, and initially I hadn’t really planned to do the 2014/15 series…. until we went to the John Muir Winter Carnival at the end of November. We just went along for a fun family day out and to watch friends take party in the cyclecross race, and meet up with another friend who had taken part in the trail run. It was a fun day out but I felt a pang of longing to be taking part. Not in the actual cyclecross (that looks like hell!) but just taking part in an event.

The next Foxlake trail race was too long for me, and the one after that would be run at night, but they are re-running the 13km route in late March so I went home and signed up.

Then I had a big glass of wine and got a bit click-happy – signing up for the medium Bowhill duathlon in late January and long Bowhill duathlon in late February as ¬†‘training’ and to keep my motivation up through the winter. Sometimes you just have to go for it – no?

So, back to 18 January, not the best day for a duathlon as my friend had her 40th birthday party the night before. I woke up feeling nauseous and unsure if I was too nervous to eat, hungover, or too worried about maybe being hungover. I forced a big bowl of porridge down and decided it was just nerves. Thankfully the duathlons don’t start till midday so I set off at 10 feeling much better and drove down to Selkirk through a snowy winter-wonderland. I signed in and got my timing ‘dibber’ and checked out where to rack my bike in transition. This might be the time to mention that i’ve never done a bike-run before, not even in training. The short dualton is run-bike. Ah well.

The bike was fun! We ground upwards through increasing ly deep snow.. I rode the whole way but was a bit disheartened to find some competitors were able to run pushing their bikes faster than I was riding! The way down again was slip-slidey fun. I took it carefully and steadily and stayed upright all the way round, I actually really enjoyed this part as my heart and lungs tried to recover from the climb.

Into transition towards the back of the pack but really not that far back. Then I made a big mistake, I tried to take my waterproof jacket off with my Garmin still on my wrist and it got stuck. THREE MINUTES it took me to disentangle myself from the stupid thing! grrr….

I set off at a light jog for the run course to try to get the legs working, which would have been fine except that after about a minute the course began to climb again, and climb, steeper and steeper, on a layer of wet mud and snow. There was no way I could run, I was struggling to scramble up there at a fast walk. About halfway up there was a junction and a blue arrow pointed up to the right, but I could see a couple running ahead of me straight on, and a few ahead of them…. I was torn… I was pretty sure we were following those blue arrows but not confident enough to go alone so I shouted out to the others, the two immediately ahead heard me and came back and agreed I was right…. eventually just before the top the couple pulled ahead of me and the guys who went the wrong way caught me up complaining about how they’d taken a wrong turn ūüôā I was passed by another couple of people on this bit and then another couple of people on the steep run back down. I was in trail shoes but I think spikes might have been better… again it was a layer of very wet slippy mud with a thick layer of snow on top.

When we got down the slope, we crossed the road near the start/finish, at this point I couldn’t actually feel my legs. It was a very odd sensation, they were like dead weights but somehow I was able to tell them to just keep moving. The second half of the run was thankfully much flatter and I jogged round as fast as I could manage, trying not to trip or slip on the rough ground even though I could barely lift my feet clear of the roots. In the last km or so I saw quite a few people, passed some, some passed me, to be honest at this end of the field we were all just trying to make it to the finish. I’d have loved to finish with a sprint but by this point I had no control over my legs and they just plodded me up the finishing straight at survival pace and I dibbed in to finish. Total time 1hr 44mins. 56min on the bike. 3 in transition and 45 on the run/slip/walk/plod.

As I write this, the long event is two weeks away. Training has been a mixed bag. It took my lower calfs two full weeks to recover entirely from the last event. I ran a parkrun 5k yesterday in an ok time (for me). I MUST do a good few hill runs in the next ten days, and I hope to cycle out to next weeks parkrun as a “brick” training sesh, then I will rest well.

But would you believe it? – I’ve only got another 40th birthday party the night before the next event!!!

Categories: mountain biking, trail running, Tweed Valley | Leave a comment

Bowhill Winter Duathlon 1

Sunday 2nd December dawned cold and frosty. It was the first (and shortest) of the Bowhill¬†Winter off-road Duathlon series¬†and my first ever Duathlon. I’ve done a few trail runs and a few mountain bike events so I thought I’d give this a go.

Image copyright: Iain Linton Photography

Transition at Bowhill House tearooms

For this one in the series it was run first then bike. It was so icy though that the running leg was more of an ice skating leg, starting out on black ice on tarmac estate road. By the time we started climbing the track I was pretty near the back. I puffed and panted my way up the hill struggling with the underfoot conditions Рit was so rough, one foot could be sunk into mud up to the ankle while the other is on solid ice and on the next step it could be the other way round, much of the run was off-piste through the forest without even a path to follow. On the way down the hill the ice got too much for me at one point where the road had flooded then frozen and I went flying!


Image: Iain Linton

I landed full body in the mud on a section where we passed¬†from flooded and then iced-over¬†road¬†onto wet mud. Under the full-body¬†mud-pack I felt my right hand stinging but didn’t really stop to think about it… Into transition I was third from last, pulled my gloves over my sore hand and my helmet on and was out again faster than anybody else…

On the bike I felt far better and started to reel in other competitors, I enjoyed the bike leg and in total I passed 12 people one by one by being able to stay on the bike the whole time despite having the wrong tyres on. I finished 123 out of 132 but looking at the bike times I was about another 20 places up the field in the bike part. After finishing I peeled off my gloves to reveal a huge slice up the inside of my wrist and onto the palm of my hand which took a LOT of very painful scrubbing to get the mud out of!

For some crazy reason I have already signed up to the next (medium) one in late January but that one is bike first so I will be more in the mix and between now and then I have plans to really practice my off-piste running.

Run: 00:30:26
Transition: 00:01:56
Bike: 00:36:42
Total: 01:09:04

Categories: outdoors, Scotland, trail running | 1 Comment

Lakeland Trails race

17.9km in 2hrs 32mins and 53 seconds sound a little bit like a walk in the park. But if I add that it involved 1088m of ascent then maybe you get a more realistic picture. And if I also add that it was around 26 degC and unbroken sunshine (and if you know how bad I am with any kind of hot weather) then you will hopefully undertand how tough the Stavely round of the Lakeland Trails series was.

To be honest, I did take it very easy. I decided when I felt the heat that I would not push it, I get pretty bad headaches when I over do it in the heat and I wanted to enjoy both the race and the whole weekend so I took it gently, and am pleased to say it was very enjoyable.

Stavely, 2012


Bit of a contrast with conditions at Hawkshead in 2010:

Hawkshead, 2010

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A pair of unusual evening running events

In the past two weekends I’ve had two of the most unusual but fun night’s running…

Friday May 4th¬†– the Blackrock 5¬†– the best running race in the Edinburgh area by a long way…. this race is run every year on a friday night at low tide, from the village of Kinghorn, out into the Forth Estuary and around the Black Rock and back to a killer uphill finish. All finishers get given a banana and bottle of beer and the rest of the evening is spent with more beers and chips from the¬†chip shop¬†ūüôā




Sunday April¬†29th¬†– training for NVA’s speed of light – a bitterly cold night on Arthur’s seat trying out light suits and the choreography for this participatory public art project to take place in August.


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Hello world!

So, the plan is to use this blog to record and share all my photos from mountain biking or skiing or hiking or running adventures. It’s a place to keep everything together, to keep me amused when I’m too tired, ill or injured¬†to be out there doing it and basically an online photo album.

It’s also¬†an attempt to move away from posting¬†a million photos of mountains¬†on facebook!

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