MdS challenge 2017

A challenge of the self


September 2015

A run across the Pentlands

Mapmyrun route

David & I decided to run across a few of the hills in the Pentlands as a training run for our ever closer participation in the Pentland Skyline race.

I had never been in this area before, so I was looking to David as my guide. However, we were both unsure of the eventual route as this was our first off road experience.

We set off from the car park just outside Balerno and  got running. David had warned me about the rise that was about to come, a lovely, seemingly never ending rise up to the end of the private road. It was definitely a warming experience to kick start this run.

Upon entering the fields, we stopped briefly to read the map and scout the landscape, we set off in the favoured direction, toward the big hill on our left, Black Hill (501m).

We misread the map a little and had to back track slightly but hey, only another couple of hundred metres on the overall. We found our way again and set off to the ‘path’ leading up Black Hill. Running was good, to start with as the path was just good enough to navigate. However, we did find the gradient and ever deepening heather was slowing us down, not to mention sapping our energy.
We slogged onwards and upwards, occasionally stopping for a few photos along the way. We couldn’t have picked a better evening to go for a run.

A glorious evening to be out

We eventually reached the top, through a combination of running and walking. All this heather and now, no path had us choosing routes that ‘looked good’. however, the top was completed, sweaty but complete with a photo for posterity.

The two Dudes
Say HELLO to David (Left) & Kristian (Right)

After stopping briefly to catch our breath and a look at the map again, we set off… downhill and onward to our next hill, Bells Hill (406m). We could already see that the next one would be steeper and more arduous.

After picking our way through the heather again on the way down, as we went off grid for a bit, we reached the bottom of Black Hill and a path.
We didn’t stop long here, making our way up, and I do mean UP Bells Hill. The grade was, steep. No running happened really all the way up this route, just steady pushing hard steps, upwards.
The top was reached after much sweat, and a few stops to admire the ever enriching sun set.

The route before us to the path below wasn’t all that clear, more like a 100mm space that sheep have used for walking. However, it was navigable and we headed downwards towards our next ‘check point’. I do have to say, I enjoy the down, making up speed and for the rather slow uphill pace earlier. Not so sure David enjoys downhill as much though!

We navigated to our next check point and stopped to check the map. Deciding that it would be good(?) to add one last hill before heading back to our start point. So, up Harbour Hill (421m) we went. As this was the last hill, we actually ran most of the way and the ‘summit’ was reached relatively quickly. Again, we stopped to look at the view across to Edinburgh, and to take in the race route.
Knowing we had done a few of the ‘harder’ hills made up for the sweat previously. However, I’m sure there will be a lot more sweat on the day!

After completing the last hill, we headed back down to the gate and towards the car-park, some 4miles (approx) away. As this is relatively flat, good time was made back.
David even had enough in the legs to leave me some 200m behind on the final push towards the finish line. Maybe I shouldn’t have waited for him on the downhill sections.

Overall, we completed what we set out to do and felt pretty good afterwards. Tired legs for sure but happy hearts.

New toys…

It’s always satisfying to open a box with something new inside.
I decided to invest in a ‘proper’ watch to keep a track on my progress, etc. After a few weeks of deliberating, I went for the Garmin Vivoactive. I think the discounted price helped with the decision.
More info from Garmin can be found here on the Vivoactive.

Having now used my vivofit for a while, I had been syncing it to the Garmin software to look at info. However, with each product, comes different data you can view. Now, I have a plethora of data streams to analyse, should I wish.

The watch is a good size and sits on the wrist well. At only 8mm thick it’s also light! I have read numerous reviews about the display not being bright enough. So far, I‘ve not encountered a problem.
If you leave the standard watch face on it, the numbers are large and clear. I have now activated one of the watch faces from the Connect IQ store. I like the look, and functionality of what the ActiFace Red offers.

Garmin VivoactiveTo the run I tested it on…

My weekend was going to be busy, I already knew that. What with a weekend of two full days at a forge, learning the art of blacksmithery, I knew I had to fit in a ‘long run’ too. After the Saturday spending a good few hours pounding away at metal, I was pretty tired. I quickly decided it would be tomorrow before I went out.
A sensible decision? Probably not but nonetheless, it was my new aim.

Sunday was another hard day at the forge and when I got back, I immediately showered (I was as black as a chimney sweep), got change and out for my run.
I opened the door and it had just started to rain. Something that was going to continue for the next hour.
I had set my mind on half marathon distance and off I went.

I soon realised, after 5-6 miles I didn’t have my head torch and I might not be able to make the full distance. I had started at 18:12 on a dull day with virtually no sunshine visible. I quickly decided to curtail my run to fit in with my circuit and finish on 11miles.
My run was ok. I had enough energy to do the first 3 miles no problem but I was tired and hadn’t eaten well during the day, so I started to flag a little on mile 4.
Luckily (?) I had the foresight to bring an SiS orange gel with me. I slogged with each incline slowing my time per k/mile. Making it up on the downward sections were heaven sent. I could just ‘let go’ and run free but as soon as I found another incline, my time dropped. Ah well, these things happen. My SiS gel was a burst of relief at mile 8 and started to work into the latter miles. However, I was flagging again by the end of mile 10. One mile to go!
I just got on with it and hauled myself up the last remaining incline towards home.
Back in the door some 1Hr 31mins later, I was pretty tired. Albeit, I was also happy that I managed to fulfil my ‘promise’ to myself and fit in my run.

Now… another one to come. Till next time folks.


Today’s lunch run with Kristian

image image

Kristian went off pretty quick, he was going for 8mile an hour pace straight away. The gradual warm up turned into a pretty warm affair, pretty quickly.

The run up the hill was, relentless but manageable. Kristian’s  HRM was reading a ‘steady’ 162bmp which turned out to be the pace for the rest of the run. This was Kristian’s ‘hard’ day.

We were a group of four today, two Alistairs,Kristian and myself. Al number 1 tore off up the hill with myself running steady behind him. Kristian was a little behind me and then followed by Al number 2.

Al 2 had already proclaimed “leave me if you need to, I know the route”, so, we did leave him but only up till the top of the hill.

Al 1 was at the top, running like a gazelle, closely followed by myself and then Kristian. Al 2 followed up the rear.

As Al 1 and I waited for Al 2, Kristian passed, and off down the gradient toward the steep slope at North Queensferry. Asking about the route, Kristian shouted back “down the hill, one set of stairs and then back to work”, we all decide by the time Al 2 arrived, we were having none of that. Clearly, K was on a mission.

Losing sight of K, we altered our route and cut off a chunk and ran through North Queensferry past the station and towards the stairs. As we reached them, and upon decending saw K running up them. He looked knackered but still on a mission.

The three of us decided to run past some of the works on the project we are all involved in, the new Forth Replacement Crossing. This added another 1k onto the route but it was worth the view.

The return journey, back to the project office, is a pretty uneventful affair so we all just got on with it.

By the time we walked back into work, K was dressed and heading back to work.

All in all a 7k run done. K had done the 6k.

Next update soon. D

And so, it begins….

Hi there,

Two rational (questionable use of the word) guys, in their 40’s who like to ‘test their limits’ have registered for participating in the “toughest foot race on Earth”, the Marathon de Sables (MdS) for 2017.

Our aim, not only to test our limits but to capture the imagination of friends and community to define “nothing is impossible”. We also intend to raise a LARGE amount for charity through our (pardon the pun) run up to the event.

This blog will chart our ups and downs of training programme, the aches, the tears and all the blisters along the way.

If you are into runniMdSng, or have run the MdS before, maybe you could give us some tips, what to focus on, etc. but we would love to hear from you, one and all.
We look forward to hearing from you all.

We are currently seeking an appropriate charity, or charities to raise funds towards. We are also interested in securing corporate sponsorship. Should you know of a lesser know but equally deserving charity, we welcome your suggestions.
Any corporate sponsorship would qualify for promotion on our (soon to be designed) T-shirts, which we will wear on, and to every training run/event.
(Amendment Dec 2015…. Charity is War Child)

We realise that this is a massive undertaking, not only for training but financially too.
There is a myriad of things to get to grips with, such things as; running with approx 7-10Kg, eating whilst running and running (being on your feet) for anything up to 10Hrs a day. And, dealing with the loneliness of running.

All of the above has to be done whilst, like so many other runners, holding down a day job. Fitting in the hours in the long dark Winter months.

We will open a “Just giving” page in the very near future.
(Amendment Dec 2015…. Just Giving page here)

For now.. HELLO… 2017, here we come!

David & Kristian

NB: For more info on the MdS, check here

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