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Loch Katrine Marathon & Half Marathon 2017 – 19 Mar


Loch Katrine Marathon 2017 - 19 Mar

 Position (100)Gender PositionCategoryCategory PositionTime
Myvanwy Fenton-may464Senior F194:02:07
Jo Vinall505Senior F164:07:44

Loch Katrine Half Marathon 2017 - 19 Mar

 Position (88)Gender PositionCategoryCategory PositionTime
Stephen Maloney6131Veteran M242:08:16

Jo said:

Loch Katrine Marathon – Sunday 19th March 2017 – The One With All The Figs

So this race was brought to you by “science”! For those of you that know me, this may come as a surprise. Despite being a scientist by day, I like to keep my running as intuitive and science-free as possible. I run by feel, walk when I want, and eat and drink when and what I want. Who wants to bring “work” out with them on a run?

But that was before I entered the West Highland Way race. Which brings me to my point. I happen to have a good friend who is a nutritionist (Ilenia Paciarotti: coincidentally she is on the books at Knotstressed – so I think that I can safely advertise here : http://www.knotstressed.com/ilenia/). We did our PhDs together, I proof read her thesis and translated it into English 😉

I asked Ilenia to help me try and survive the WHW race, and maybe even do well…… She has poked and prodded me, measured all sorts of parameters, and asked all manner of questions about my eating habits while running and while not running (what is that time called – “waiting to be running?”). First she asked me to make little changes to the timing and types of foods that I was eating on a normal day. Despite my best efforts, I was upset to find that after 6 weeks I HAVE NOT LOST A SINGLE GRAM!!! However, more measurements later, she informed me that I have turned some fat mass into lean muscle mass, so I must have been doing something right. Result!

The next step was to look at nutrition during a race. She asked me to put aside my usual jelly babies, coca cola (apparently this is VERY BAD), sandwiches, pies, crisps, rice balls, water, bars etc, and behave myself for once, so that she could work out exactly what I did eat and drink during a run, in order to calculate what I actually need. So I was dispatched with strict instructions to run with only isotonic sports drink (made correctly for once, delivering approx 60g CHO per hour) and the rest of the energy that I needed from figs. Specifically, one every 20 to 30 mins, each delivering another 10-12g CHO. The figs were because I had a tantrum and refused to run just on isotonic sports drink, insisting on some “real” food. …………..BUT NOTHING ELSE!!!! This terrified me more that the thought of running 95 miles in a few months! I tend to eat actual food when I run because when I eat only sugar I get an upset tummy. But what have I got to lose?

So I packed my bag with 1.2 L (exactly) isotonic sports drink – High5 – the only one I like – and 12 figs (and a spare flap jack bar and some Cliff Shot Blocks for emergencies!), went out for a little 10 mile run with the dog (I’d decided already that I wasn’t racing tomorrow), and set my alarm for 4.30 am. On race morning I got myself up, fed dog, explained to him that figs were probably not good for him, so he should probably stay at home, got ready to go, and left into the dawn to pick up Myv and Dave for our adventure.

Some time later, after a small misadventure involving following the satnav into the back of some hotel hidden in the Trossachs, we arrived where we meant to be. Highlight of the day – Sharon Smith appeared as if by magic out of the ladies loo! I had no idea she was going to be there. Finally, after many long months of waiting, I was able to hear the end of her poem “locked in the shitter”. I have been waiting since Fort William Marathon, July 2016, for this! Genius! Thank you Sharon, you made my day!

Waiting to start, everyone warned me about eating figs while running (“have you got your Imodium?”) but I was confident. Too confident? My guts rarely let me down while running. What is the worst that can happen?!

The race itself was fantastic, and really low key. There were probably only about 150 marathon runners, and a half marathon and 10k that set off after us. Timing was a stop watch, the race briefing was shouted over our heads, and we were sent off on our merry way. The rain rained. Sometimes drizzle, sometimes heavier. At one point I think we may have even had shadows – the sun must have been shining! The route itself was out and back, going half way round the loch on a very quite (2 cars?) tarmac road. Ordinarily I don’t like out-and-back races, but I’ll make an exception here. It was really nice to see the front runners on their way back as I approached the turning point, and then in turn to say “hi” and congratulate everyone coming behind me. Also, ordinarily I’m also not a fan of a race on tar, but I am certainly not a trail running snob – I’ll run on anything to be honest…….

I ran the first 3 (ish?) miles with Myv, at about 8.30 min miles, but this was too fast for me to keep up for 4h. I said goodbye, sent her on her merry way, and settled down to my own pace (9 min miles today). And my figs. I read somewhere that the route was flat, but unevenly so. Some bits were more flat than others. This was a perfect description. Overall we climbed about 2000ft, but this was broken up and humply. There were only a couple of significant climbs. One at 6-7 miles (they called it graveyard hill) and a couple on the way back, at 16 miles and 21 miles. The views were stunning despite the rain, and the banter was good (when I could find people).

By about half way round I was still feeling good, and knew that Myv wasn’t very far ahead of me. But I was getting very bored of just sports drink and figs (I’d already had about 4 by this point). A marshall was offering tablet and water at the half way checkpoint. What a relief! That was the best tablet ever! (Sorry Ilenia!). I lost steam a little bit after this, and had some slower miles fighting into the headwind and climbing the “hills”………getting skeptical about this nutrition plan to be honest. However, I stuck with it, kept the pace as steady as I could (doing about 10 min miles at this point) and ate my figs. Fortunately, my ultra-legs came back by about 20 miles (maybe it takes this long to get warmed up!) and I picked up the pace and started passing people. Could there be something in this “science” lark after all?

Finally I saw the finish, just about tripped over someone’s dog (I should be used to this), and raced in. I finished in 4 h 07 min, which made me the 5th lady in. As I got to the half way point in pretty much exactly 2 h, that meant that the second half was only 7 min slower than the first, which I am very pleased with. It was a well paced and planned race. I am sure I could have gone faster had I not run the day before, but it was always my plan to use this as a long training run.
Once home, I checked what I had left in my pack, and it turned out I had only drunk 500mL sports drink and eaten 8 figs (and some water and tablet….) – this was pretty restrained by my standards, but it was clearly enough as I didn’t really slow down.

So what have I learnt?

  • When the pressure is off, and I’m not taking a race seriously, I can pull something out of the bag that I’m very pleased with.
  • Figs work beautifully as a running snack.
  • I love figs – but boy did I get bored! I need variety.
  • I don’t need to eat and drink nearly as much on a run as I usually take on – just make sure I’m taking the right stuff, and I won’t get tired or sick!
  • Sharon is a hilarious poet!

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