Wednesday, 6 July 2011

KINLOCHLEVEN RUNNING - 30th May to 1st July

Nothing exciting to report on the climbing front.  Not sure where my climbing is going at the moment.  Marriage, Uni work and Bekah's comps seem to have obliterated my time to get out climbing and as I can't get out regularly, my confidence turnes sharply downhill!  I guess I've made a bit of a compromise with D, as long as I can get out winter climbing LOTS then I'm happy enough sacrificing summer climbing time so that I actually have time to spend with D.  And having a 3 week trip  to the Alps for some snowy mountains feels like a pretty damn good compromise actually!
That said, I did actually make an attempt of sorts to get out climbing whilst I was living up in Kinlochleven during my clinical placement.  I met up with Isi who works at the Ice Factor and we did actually drive to Polldubh, when the heavens opened and it rained, and it rained and it rained.  In fact, I barely stopped raining the whole 5weeks I was living up there!  But when it's nice, boy is it nice!  I had a day back in Dundee once my placement was over and it felt like such a dirty, grey and dreary place to be.  Even Brechin feels too towny now!  I'm craving countryside and hills like crazy!  This Alps trip can't come soon enough and I know I shouldn't wish my life away, but I'm eager for the 3 years of Uni to pass so I can qualify, get working and move somewhere decent with nearby mountains.
Back to Kinlochleven........So, I didn't do much climbing, but I did get out running into the hills 6x whilst I was there.  And it's tough!  There's no running whatsoever in Kinloch which doesn't involve any steep hills.  My first run took me up the West Highland Way towards Fort William and it was far too steep for me to run the start of and involved run/walk/run until the incline eased off to undulating and I was able to run much longer stints.  My next run involved running up to the Mamore Lodge, where I was going to run along towards Loch Eilde Mor but descend back to Kinloch before I got there.  Jamie, manager of The Ice Factor (who was putting me up (or putting up with me as D would say!)) was arriving back home that evening and I wanted to be down off the hill and back to the Ice Factor for his keys incase the place was shut before he got home.  As it was I got a text from him mid run to say he'd got the key and was home.  So I decided to keep running.  Right along to Loch Eilde Mor, around the dam and through the boggiest countour ever around Leitir Bo Fionn where I worried about losing my shoe on several occasions!  A steep descent followed down to some woodland to the East of Kinloch where the recent storms had blown several trees down over the path.  A bit of an assault course ensued to get back to Jamie's.   It was amazing though!  One of those runs where you feel good and the running feels easy and your mind just drifts off, lovely!
I had a run down the Lairig Eilde next, which lies between the wee Buachaille and Beinne Fhada.  This run was hellish!  Going up the Lairig to the pass was fine enough and zooming down into Glen Etive was fun.  But the run back up to the pass was probably the steepest thing I've ever attempted to run and involved bouts of 30 second running, followed by stopping, slumped over for 10seconds (I refused to allow myself any longer) then walking for a minute.  I carried on in this manner all the way back up to the pass, very systematically which is the only way I can cope with steep ascents.  If I try to walk the steep bits and run the easier bits, I think I'd just end up walking the whole lot!  I was getting serious hunger pangs on the way back down and felt pretty weak and shaky at one point.  Felt good to get back to the car!
My 4th run had me going back along the West Highland Way along to an old ruin known as Tigh na Sleubhaich.  There was a couple of guys camping in the ruin, blethering with an old dude in a landrover.  So I didn't go right up to the building and just turned about.  The old guy caught up with me and stopped to chat, telling me that the guys were trying to light a fire, unsuccessfully due to the wood being too damp and due to it being Rowan wood which doesn't burn so well when fresh.  He then went on to say that his Grandmother used to live in the old ruin and we then went on to discuss the harsh winters we've been having.  This was quite a nice run, felt easy apart from the hard start.
For my final two runs I went out with a friend from Kinlochleven.  Pete 
had recently run the West Highland Way race, a 96mile race in just over 20 hours.  Mental!  So he was more than happy to do a few wee runs with me at my pace for his recovery runs (though I'm sure he'd still have gone faster for his recovery without me slowing him down.)  Our first outing was along the track at the back of the Kingshouse in Glencoe, along past the Black Corries Logde and to the mast below Meall a Phuill.  This was more suited to me than the steep things I'd been attempting and I wasn't having to stop and walk as much as usual, just a few times and never for long.  The heat was boiling that day and I had my thicker running tights and fleece on and that made it a bit of a struggle! 
The final run was into the forest at Gleann a  Chaolais and this was amazing!  Just a wee start along the side of the road and then up into foresty track.  I still had to stop a few times, but I wasn't timing as I was too busy blethering with Pete.  Before long we hit the turn in the track, flat from there for a while as the track contoured around under Beinn a Bheithir, then downhill which was so much fun!  The track was really soft and spongy and it was steep enough to get some speed up and smooth enough to cut loose, I even got my speed up to just over 5 minutes a mile at one point, though that pushing things for me and didn't last long especially as a wee uphill section loomed up ahead!  The view out to Glencoe and down Loch Leven was simply stunning and it's one of the nicest runs I've been out on.
So that was that.  5 weeks working at the Belford, surrounded by mountains galore but no climbing whatsover!  I did have a couple of sessions at the Ice Factor wall, but I found the grading there pretty desperate and the holds a bit dire and  smooth for my taste.

Bekah had the finals of the Youth Climbing Series down in Wolverhampton on the 25th June which she really enjoyed.  She's not been training as much as she was last year and that reflected in her result, 7th place out of 32 I think.  She was beaten by girls that she was beating last year, so I think it's made her realise that if she wants results then she has to put the work in.  The routes at the comp were really tough, but they were set really well, with several cruxes which worked to seperate them all.  The boulders were tough too, with nobody topping the final boulder problem which was utterly desperate!  As much as I enjoy taking RB round her comps, as I know how much she enjoys them, it's so much more fun getting out climbing!
Monday is our normal training day and it was blazing during the day, so much so that I just couldn't face going indoors to the wall.  Last summer saw us spending far too much time indoors climbing for the comps, but I'm sure that Beks can train just as well with days climbing outside too.  And I'm missing proper climbing, indoors is so sterile that it just gets boring after a while.

I did think about taking RB to Rob's Reed, but seen as she's only been out once this summer and I've only been out a few times, I thought we'd just stick to where we know and keep Rob's for another day.  So Kirrie it was.  I was really nervous at the prospect of climbing again and just warmed up on a 3+ (which is so dirty I don't know why I bothered!) and a 4 that I always seem to find tricky as I can't find this crucial intermediate hold for me to reach the big hold above.  No problems this time though and the thought of spending the rest of the evening leading all the same old easy stuff that I've done a billion times before wasn't inspiring me.  Time for a challenge!  I got the clipstick out and clipped the first 2 clips of Fat of The Land at 6b.  Ignoring holds off to the right and using holds in line with the clips seemed the right thing to do at the grade and it took me several goes off a wee crimp to get the other crimp by the 2nd clip.  Some fancy footwork was needed to get me to a juggy rail above but I couldn't seem to commit to doing it.  I think it was the thought of then being above the clip and not knowing what would come above.  I came down and got Jon to lead it so I could do the whole thing on toprope.  Still took me several goes to the get the crux but I managed the rest in one go.  Lovely route, nice layback moves, up to thinner moves above and a funky finish.  I was buzzing after that, so nice to find a route where the climbing is involving, something I've not felt for a long time!  I'm sure I can lead this route cleanly after a couple more goes.

Bekah was climbing with Ali and between them they did, The Hill Has Eyes (5), Hillbillies (3+), Spent (6a), La Plage (4), The Twa Dogs (6c), Wisdom's Door (6b+), Hanging by a Thrum Hold (6b) and Fat of the Land (6b)


Peter Duggan said...

Dunno about you, but I'm still smiling every time you talk about that last run! :-)

Sonya said...

It was so nice and given me a taste for more for sure. I've not done a single road run since that evening, off to join a hill running club after the Alps and buy lots of new gear. And new shoes, my Inov8's are utterly, utterly trashed. It feels just as sad as retiring a pair of climbing shoes.