MdS challenge 2017

A challenge of the self


May 2016

A few stops along the way, for CAKE. Day1

As said in  my previous post, I’d do a write up about my four days walking, and assisting with Michael’s Way walk from Iona to St Andrews. Well, here goes…

Whilst browsing through a FB group, I came across a call for assistance. I was intrigued enough to pm the person to discuss. My initial thoughts, was that would be a good thing to do, i.e. help someone else and I just took it from there. No real plan, nothing more than trying to do the decent thing.

So, a meeting was set up locally for a few other like minded folks to meet Michael and ‘have a go’ at guiding him. Michael is a 75yr old blind man and has been totally blind for 40yrs. He is also profoundly deaf, although he has some hearing through two strong hearing aids. Continue reading “A few stops along the way, for CAKE. Day1”

It’s been a busy week

Wow… Where do I start?

First thing, I had the pleasure to run with Wayne Russell who is running round Britain. As Wayne was coming South, through Fife, I asked if he didn’t mind me joining for the 15mile (ish) stint from Burntisland to South Queensferry. 

I’ve been following Wayne pretty much since he left London in September last year and hoped that I could run with him. Wayne is running to raise awareness and cash for the SuperHero Foundation, who do a great job and a well worth cause. It really wasn’t a hard decision to try and gain some support for Wayne’s cause through my blog and FB page.

Saturday: The run itself was a good. A warm day and a nice ‘relaxed’ pace. With all the miles (over 4,000 up till that point), Wayne has developed a good pace and runs easy at 8:30 per minute. This pace however, does reduce due to the 22kg pack that he carries on most of his sections. Luckily, Wayne had his pack travel to the other end by a supporter. 22kg you say, yup! He’s doing it self supported and has to carry a tent and all his necessary gear with him.

To find out a little more abut Wayne and his cause, please visit here…

During the run with Wayne, we dropped into Sandy Wallace Cycles to have a look at my new bike. We were just discussing it, and it so happened that the shop was on the way to where we were ending. It would’ve been rude not to. So, I now am the owner of a hybrid bike (with suspension) to assist with my training regime, i.e. take a little bit of weight and pressure of my knees.

I’ve not ridden a bike for almost 20yrs so this was going to be a new experience. 

After finishing my run with Wayne, I ran back to Sandy Wallace Cycles to collect my bike. After a short fitting and a few adjustments, I was hitting the road. A short 4miles (ish) back home. With 29 gears to get used to, I, as you would expect, forgot which ‘button’ was which and made a few mistakes on gear choices on my cycle home. However, I made it safely home but realised that the suspension should be switched to on, as the roads (conditions) were bumpier than expected. Oooh my bum, it didn’t half hurt!

Onwards to the actual week ahead.

Monday: saw me ride into work, my usual route, a 9.2k. Knowing this was my first real time on the bike, I was a little anxious about the hill and how effective the brakes are, and my ‘prowess’ on the bike. I needent have worried, all good. I arrived at work in 26 minutes. I took exactly the same route that I run, just to compare and the fact it has a cycle path too which makes certain sections easier to navigate and remain out of traffic.

That said, I’m ok being in traffic but it is sometimes better to be away from vehicles at certain areas.

A day of work done, I cycled home using the same route. If you’be been following my blog, you’ll know that there is a difference of 157m in elevation between my work and home. Most of which come near the end of the run. I do have to say, as I approached the part through the town park, I had to get off and push for a section. Thoughts of “I could run up this faster” were being said inside my head but, coupled with “this is my first time”, I understand that I’ll get better and more used to cycling up the short, sharp hill through the park.

The main rise to home was easier but I did have to drop into the highest gear. Yup, of having 29 gears, I was using No. 1 to grind it out and cycle up the hill to home. After many, many turns of pedals, the top was reached and home was soon reached. Yeah! Cycle to work No.1 DONE! Bum even more sore than Saturday so, straight onto the web for a search of padded shorts.

Tuesday: My usual run into work. Running on tired legs, I completed the inward run in 44mins and the run out in 48mins (it was very warm!) but I was happy it was complete. 

My schedule for training now has changed to the following: Monday, Wednesday & Thursday: Bike in. Tuesday & Friday: Run in. Total mileage: approx 57.5 (92k) during the week with a long run, anything from 20 – 35miles one day over the weekend. So, all in all, anything up to 92.5miles (148k) per week.

Knowing I need recovery, the schedule will have one day off on the first week, and then two days off the following week. This will then continue until things need to change again. Obviously, hill running, intervals etc. will continue through these days too. So, lots of things to do.

Wednesday – Saturday: I was assisting a very inspiration man of 75yrs who is blind and profoundly deaf, walk across West to East Scotland. 

I met Michael Andreson a few weeks earlier to see if I could guide him and to see if we actually go along together. All of which matters if you are guiding someone who relies on your input almost every minute during the day. Although I wouldn’t be alone in my days with Michael, it’s still something that takes me out of my comfort zone, having never guided anyone who is blind.

My initial meeting went well, and it wasn’t a hard decision to say I could assist for the last four days from Perth to St Andrews, some 52k of walking over four days along the Fife Coastal path.

I will write more, in a separate blog about the walk itself as there is lots to say, and write. Although, I will say this, Michael is a true inspiration .

To find out more about Michaels Way, please click here and for an interview with the man himself (and Nina) please click here

Sunday: This morning saw me run Ben Cleuch once more, my fortnightly hill run. A mere 10k from car park to top and return with over 520m of elevation. My running friend Jim came along for his second run. We managed to knock 5mins 30secs of his previous time. A great result in a warm morning where the heat was hindering progress up.

Apologies for such a long post, but, I did say that it had been a busy week.

What have you been up to kids?

Keep, keeping on. Take care.

It feels a lot like Christmas

Yup, in the middle of May, I’ve got that Christmas feeling.

In a previous post I mentioned that the company I’m working with was willing to assist me in my quest. Well, this week, I received a whole bunch of kit. It’s made me pretty excited about next year. But, I’ll have to trial it all first and make sure it all works for me. I’m therefore pretty glad I get the opportunity to test most of the kit next week, on my three day walk.

What you see has been selected through a fair bit of research and supplied by the following peeps; myRaceKit (wearables and sleeping), Tailwind Nutrition (Hydration) and Extreme Adventure foods (MRE’s).
Kit list (left to right): Inov-8 Terraclaw 250’s, Rab ultralight wind-proof jacket, Hot packs (for heating my wet meals), Klymit Inertia O-zone sleeping pad (340g), OMM 1.0 sleeping bag (380g), X-bionic Bandana, X-bionic Marathon running shorts, Essential kit (venom pump etc) MRE’s, Raidlight Ultra 30l backpack, Tailwind 30serving hydration, X-bionic wearables (pants and a top), Velo Champion compression socks, and, not shown a pair of Julbo Trek Spectron 4 Sunglasses and MyRaceKit Gaitors.

Oh, not forgetting the obligatory running T, after all, it’s why I’m doing this…War Child.

I’ve already tried a few of the wearables and find they are fab. They do the job well but unknown how they will perform in serious heat. A trip to sunnier a climate is required.

I cannot thank the company (Morrisons/Galliford Try working in the FCBC JV) enough for their generosity. All of the above does cost money and a fair bit too.

Some of you won’t be aware, but, the cost associated in running the MdS is, considerable. The speculative cost for 2017 is approx £3,500.00 so the generosity helps keep outgoings down as much as possible. By no means is the last kit purchase I’ll be making in the coming year but I’m pretty sure, if they all work as I hope they should, I’m now on my way to understanding what I’ll need to take for the actual race. Then all I have to do is concentrate on the running bit.

Look out for the reviews of the kit in the coming weeks.

Here’s to 2017!

Hoping this finds you well.

Keep, keeping on.


New Toy… Revisited

Hey kids, hope this finds you well.

It’s not been so long ago since I write about a new addition to the tech I have, my Garmin Vivoactive. Well, a few months on, Garmin have updated it and, I’m sorry but, I had to get it. So, I ordered the all new Vivoactive HR (that last bit is important, and the reason I ordered it) on the Tursday and it came on the Friday afternoon. That was the first surprise as I was sure it was coming on Monday. However, very glad it came early as I could test it out later in the day.

So, why a new watch so soon? Well, the new version has had a complete overhaul and has now got an always on heart rate monitor. Although I’ve not been too fussed about wearing the chest strap hr, I knew it’d be easier not to have to wear it. And, being a tech freak, I do like to check the metric and knowing your rate rate is a good measure of fitness. Importantly it’s good for knowing your recovery, the true level of fitness imo.

And for my first test…

Out of the box, it feels good and looks good. It’s light and doesn’t feel too large on the wrist. My wrist (it’s on my left) is 7in in diameter and the strap is pinned in, about the middle hole. The screen is touch driven, you can swipe up and down and ‘press’ on the option you wish.

It’s very tactile, easy to navigate and intuitive. One button for back/light (left), and another to select the menu/settings (right).

Another reason to upgrade, albeit not the main one, is that the watch will ‘know’ what activity you are doing and start recording your run, or walk accordingly. No need to choose it in a menu and wait. A nice touch.

The run…
A new route in the countryside was chosen as I was dropping someone off and then would be returning for a collection again anyways. So, I thought, get the map out, see what’s about and put on the running gear and go for a run to alleviate the time.

My route would see me run in a big right handed turn, ending back 10.5k back at the car.

Not having done the route before, I decided I’d just see what happened and go for it. I pushed my little legs along the route and glanced at my watch when it buzzed at mile 1… 7:15 min mile done. Turning right and along the road, my watch buzzed again. Mile 2 done… 7:04mins. I was going ok. Again, not knowing the route, I just pushed on and tried my best with the changes in elevation and trying to maintain my cadence and speed. There were a couple of ups, notably in the middle. I gained 40meters ish and felt it. Although, shortly after, I turned right again and then came back down.

In the end, Ihit the 10k mark in 47mins and then slowed down for the last half k uphill finish. My wee legs were tired.

The watch performed well, I only had to start the run and stop it. NB: I decided to manually start/stop it for the first run. A quick sync to my phone and all of the metrics were ready to be analysed.  A new metric has been added, Intensity minutes. Although, I’m not actually bothered by another metric as I tend to know and understand exactly how hard I’ve been training, regardless of activity. So, this metric, I’ll not be delving into too much.

As I mentioned, the biggest thing was the constant on hear rate reading. By swiping down on the main screen you get the HR window and it pulses away. It gives you a nice graph covering four hours and then continues throughout the day. The nice thing is it gives you a low, a high and your resting rate.  If you press anywhere on the screen it then switches to a graph of your resting rate over the week. A nice little feature. Currently my average is 46 and I’ve apparently recorded a low of 33. I think I’m dead! Nice to know though it can also hit 187 as shown on my last hill run, yesterday. Phew!

After a day of wearing it, I really like it. It does everything I want it to. I’m not bothered about some of the recording features, i.e. Stand Up Paddle boarding or swimming for that matter (yes it’s waterproof (50m)), and certainly not golf. And, like everything, if it does what you want it to do, it’s a good purchase.

Other watches will record far more metric but what are you gonna do, measure the time your off the ground as well? Yup, some watches do that but I really, really don’t get it. Ah well, horse for courses.

With Garmin connect, you can customise the watch face and add other data screens so you can make it your own.

Would I recommend that you buy one? Yes, I would. If you’re into running/biking/swimming and want to see your heart rate without wearing an HR chest strap, I think it ticks all the boxes.

What tech wouldn’t you be without?

What metric do you track?

Keep, keeping on folks. Take care

And so we return

Now things have been rested, I’m back in to the normal pattern again.

PLAN is:

1. I’ll get some FREE running twice a week (Tuesday & Friday) by running into, and back from work which equates to close to 40k. Hoping my times will get better and looking for close to a 40min run in. The runs home are always longer in time due to the gradients but I’ll still try and get the time down on those too.
Who doesn’t like something for free 🙂

2. I’ve planned my fortnightly hill run. A short (10K) up Ben Cleuch in the Ochil hill range.

3. My long run will start to increase again. I’ve found a nice 13mile route which I can do a there and back and should I wish to look for that little bit extra, I can add in the Ben Cleuch into this too.
Just trying to replicate the hardships I’ll be faced with (less the heat) on the MDS, i.e. it’s not all flat and some of the hills are MASSIVE, and steep.

4. Interval training every fortnight (Wednesday evening). A mixture of sadistic torture on oneself for a 45min session.

My races for the rest of the year will consist of:

July – Great Glen Way – 71 miles with 6300ft ascent – Fort William to Inverness
Aug – Devil O the Highlands – 42 miles with 71ooft ascent- Tyndrum to Fort William
Aug – Ochil 2000 – 17/18 miles with 5000ft ascent – Glen Devon to Stirling
Oct – Pentland Skyline – 16/17miles with 6200ft ascent
Dec – Festive Handicap – 14k fun run on boxing day

Speaking of races, in a mad thought whilst waiting for a program to do something at work today, I’ve signed up for the 2017 London Marathon ballot. LOL… the things you do 😉

Go on. tell me you ain’t mad either!

Blog at

Up ↑