New Beginnings

jmackintosh (1)

It’s time, once again, for a new beginning, and this applies in equal measures to both my web site, www.pixelscotland.com, and to my running.

www.pixelscotland.com has come a long way since that first post, ‘Montane Highland Fling, 30th April 2011‘, back in April of 2011, outlining my successful completion of the 2011 Montane Highland Fling. The post made reference, not only to my successful completion of the 2011 Fling but, also, to my Fling efforts of the previous year, which saw me receive my one and only Did Not Finish (DNF) to date. Back in 2010, despite having just completed my first ultra marathon, the 33 mile D33, I was overweight, lacking in specificity of training, and generally ill-prepared for the undulating and often technical 53 miles that lay before me at the Fling.

Fast forward to February 2016, and I currently have 19 ultra marathon completions to my name, most of them obtained in 2011 (6) and 2012 (7).

In March 2013, just two weeks after the birth of my son Harris, I completed my local ultra marathon, the D33. Once again, I found myself overweight, lacking in (any) training, and generally ill-prepared. Having come off the back of a very successful year, which saw me complete 7 ultra marathons, including the 95 mile West Highland Way Race, my thoughts turned to our impending arrival and to the huge amount of preparation that needed to be done, including an almost top to toe revamp of our house, long neglected in favour of back-to-back long slow runs (LSRs) most weekends.

As you might expect, ‘training’ suffered and, even as we approached the completion of work on the house, training was again curtailed by the need to be close at hand, just on the off chance that our son decided on an early arrival.

I completed the D33 but it wasn’t pretty. Actually, come to think of it, ‘pretty’ is not a term that I have ever heard applied to my running ‘form’. However, joking aside, when combined with the guilt of having left my wife and newborn son for 6 hours of ‘fun’, it was enough of a wake up call to make me realise that continuing with 2013’s planned events (Hoka Highland Fling and The West Highland Way Race) wouldn’t be fair on anyone.

And there began my ‘parental leave’, my self-imposed hiatus from the Scottish ultra marathon scene.

In 2015, following an almost total break from running events, save for the 2013 Moray 10k and Great Scottish Run 1/2 marathon, I returned to running ultra marathons. I started with my local event, the D33, rueing my loss of ‘ever present’ status but appreciating that the hiatus was most definitely the right thing to do. I fell considerably short of my 2012 PB but, despite a continued lack of training, this time as a result of the demands of parenthood, I managed to avoid recording a personal worst time.

A lack of training is presenting itself as a common theme to my running of late, albeit with different excuses from year to year!

I can’t recall having ever felt quite so ill-prepared for the 53 miles of the Hoka Highland Fling, to the point that I actually considered not going to the inconvenience and expense of travelling down to Glasgow for the event. Somewhat fortuitously, we ended up having to travel down to collect our car which had broken down on a visit to Glasgow some months previously. Given that I was going to be there anyway, I decided that I might as well turn up and see how far I could get. I somehow managed not only to finish but, despite stopping to take far too many photos along the way, recorded a PB of almost 2 1/2 minutes!

My third and final event for 2015 was The Great Glen Ultra, 73 miles along the Great Glen Way, from Fort William to Inverness. I completed in a time of 16:02:49, despite stomach cramps and despite considering a DNF for approximately 1/2 of the event. Once I passed the 1/2 way point, there seemed no point in not completing. However, of all the ultra marathons that I have completed, this was ***the*** event that had me finishing and proclaiming ‘never again’. Despite finishing in a time well short of my stated goal of 18 hours, I had experienced a tough time of it.

However, in true ultra marathon fashion, the pain was soon forgotten and I found my attentions turning to 2016.

To date, I have signed up for The D33, The Hoka Highland Fling, The West Highland Way Race, The Devil O’ The Highlands, and Glenmore 24.

My main targets for the year are a second completion at The West Highland Way Race, and hopefully without the ‘complications’ experienced back in 2012, graphically outlined in ‘Against All Odds – The Quest For A West Highland Way Race Goblet‘, and to run 100 miles at the Glenmore 24.

Looking back over www.pixelscotland.com, it has served me well in helping to document my progress from that first event back in 2010 and, indeed, my running has provided a sense of direction for the site that was previously lacking. I’ve actually owned the domain since I first registered it back in 2009 but it wasn’t until 2011 that I actually started to make use of www.pixelscotland.com.

However, not unlike my running on occasion, I also feel that the purpose of the site drifted from time to time, with a focus on reviews, forthcoming products, eZine releases and the like. As much as I like free product, I no longer have the time nor the inclination to review products that I would most likely not choose to use in a training and/or race scenario. Over the years, I have come to realise which products work best for me and I will be continuing to use and abuse those products through the course of 2016.

That’s not to say that I won’t commit to using a ‘preferred brand’, should such an offer be forthcoming. However, given that I am, at best, a middle of the pack runner, that’s ‘unlikely’ to happen (In the unlikely event that a representative from Altra, OMM, Drymax, Suunto and/or Salomon should happen to be reading, do please feel free to get in touch!).

Given that the old site does document my progress from 2010 onwards in such detail, I have chosen to archive the site rather than remove it, and it can be accessed via http://www.pixelscotland.com/archive-pixelscotland/

Over time, I hope to transfer some of the pertinent content into the new www.pixelscotland.com web site. However, for the most part, I am ‘ditching’ what came previously in favour of a fresh start and a fresh approach. The new www.pixelscotland.com will focus on getting back to basics and documenting my ultra journey, both in terms of racing and training. Any kit reviews will be limited solely to items that have made it in to my kit rotation and have proven their worth over time.

Elements of the site might look a bit odd to start off but, having already spent a few weeks working on the new, improved www.pixelscotland.com, and having come no closer to settling on various design aspects, I decided to go live with a minimum of content. As such, you can expect various tweaks and additions over the coming weeks, over and above any actual ultra marathon related posts.

Things are already progressing with regard to my 2016 West Highland Way Race attempt and, as such, I want to get on and document it without having to wait for the site to be ‘ready’.

So there you have it – a fresh start for www.pixelscotland.com and a fresh start for me as a runner as I embark upon the training required to (hopefully) see me through my 2016 events.