Friday, March 19, 2010

Back from Vacation - Inverness Half Marathon


I've had a busy month since the last post. I just got back early Thursday morning from two weeks in England and Scotland. Scotland was the first 'real' (not border-Mexico or Canada) foreign country I ever visited. Back in May 1980 I was a NROTC Midshipmen on a submarine for 1st Class Summer Cruise. I'll never forget coming out of the submarine hatch and finding myself sailing up the Firth of Clyde surrounded by mountains, with little cottages along the coastline each with a hint of coal smoke from their chimneys. A couple years later, I was on a submarine deployed from Scotland, but the magic and excitement of that day in May never faded. I've been fortunate to be able to visit a few other countries since, but Scotland is still special.

Running has been spotty. I missed several days preparing for the trip, and then another few days traveling. We arrived in England on Thursday the 11th, but I didn't get a chance to run as we traveled up to Scotland. On Saturday night, we arrived at a little rental-house on the Waternish Peninsula of the Isle of Skye.



On Sunday afternoon I took my first run since Monday, heading out toward the end of the peninsula. I heard there were ruins of a church where there was a fairly large clan battle back in the 16th century. But on the way I found a great looking dirt road heading up a hill. There was a cattle fence across the road, but it wasn't locked; just held in place with a cool old iron hook.

After a nice first mile or so, the road started getting very boggy and muddy. Even though there are large hills, much of the land was just a mossy swamp. I ran up to a stone monument commemorating Roderick MacLeod of Unish, who died there in the Second Battle of Waternish in 1530.

I then ran back to the road and when I finally got to the ruined Trumpan Church, there was a sign showing the dirt road was an 11 mile walk on Waternish Point that also passed two iron-age brochs.

Trumpan Church Ruins


The run ended up being about 11.5 miles.

Monday was another beautiful sunny but crisp day. I ran back to the ruins of the Trumpan Church and looped back around to the main road for a 9+ mile run:

There were some tough hills past the church, but there were also beautiful views of the loch.











Tuesday
was a 6.5 mile run to the Fairy Bridge:




Wednesday was a 10 mile run over the peninsula to the village of Geary along Loch Snizort. I didn't bring my phone so you won't have to see any pictures. This side of the peninsula is more rural, with many abandoned black house ruins.


Thursday morning I ran 13 miles out to the Waternish Point Trail again to find one of the ancient brochs, Dun Gearymore. On Wednesday's run while crossing the peninsula I saw another broch, Dun Hallin, so I decided I would try and run up to one during this run.

In front of the house, starting Thursday's run.

A bridge on the dirt road.

On top of Dun Gearymore

Dun Borrafiach in the distance

I didn't run to Dun Borrafiach, but it is better preserved with 10 feet high walls remaining.


We went to the Outer Hebrides Isle of Lewis Thursday afternoon and on Friday evening I took a short easy run near Stornoway:



I took a rest day Saturday and we traveled from Stornoway to Inverness. On Sunday afternoon, I ran the City of Inverness Half Marathon. A 1PM start for a serious race would be foolish in Houston, but in Scotland it makes perfect sense. I was hoping for an outside chance of an age group award, but I knew my chances were pretty slim even if I ran perfectly. The award structure was quite different than Houston area races: Awards to the top 10 finishers, then the top three masters, and age group awards to the top finisher for four groups: Over 45, O/50, O/55, and O/60. Even though there was much less emphasis on Masters runners, I found the competition was strong.
I didn't come close to running a perfect race. Without any familiar faces to pace off, I started much too fast with a 5:51 first mile. The first couple of miles were nice and flat, along the River Ness. But the next couple of miles started to climb away from the river and I slowed to a 6:50 4th mile as people streamed past me. I settled into about a 6:30 pace the next few miles as we went though a forest into some suburban areas with new homes. I don't remember mile 9 much, but it was raining and there must've been some uphill because I ran an awful 7:04. Miles 10 and 11 were downhill back to the river and I was able to pick up the pace back to 6:20. The sun came back out and I slowed a little to 6:30 for the last couple of miles along the river. I ended up with a 1:24:43 for 56th overall and 6th in the O/50 group. I was hoping for under 1:23, but I guess it wasn't too bad. I was happy to see the O/50 prize winner ran a 1:17:49, so even with a perfect race I didn't have chance. Here are a few of my pictures (and there are some much better pictures here.
The River Ness

A flushing porta-can. Moving the handle pumps blue fluid to flush. It looks like a good idea, but in practice I prefer the old fashioned sump of blue fluid.

Getting ready to start with a bang.


Running skirts for men?





There were 1125 finishers under the three hour time limit. 108 total and eight O/50 finished under 1:30. For contrast, the Houston Half Marathon had about 2370 finishers under three hours, but only 75 total and seven O/50 finished under 1:30.

Flying over Boston on the way home:

1 comment:

KG said...

Liked reading about the history in this post. Cool pics too...you must be psyched for the trials coming your way in 2012. The women did multiple loops along the Charles River in Boston for the '08 trials - very spectator friendly, awesome. I figure the trials will be a good excuse for me to go out there and run the regular marathon too.