Monday, 1 June 2015

St Clair Vineyard Half Marathon

I feel the title alone will explain why I was persuaded to take part in this half marathon.

Being Scottish and new to New Zealand, I’m keen to try and seek out opportunities to see new places and should there be some running and wine involved then it is a bonus! I therefore decided to p*ss off call the race organisers the week before the race and see if I could get a last minute place. I was in luck as some people had dropped out in the last couple of days so I could sneak in.

On the Friday night, fellow club member Megan Murdoch and I head up to Blenheim. Megan has been training hard and is feeling fresh. I jest that she is looking to place in the race and my suspicions are confirmed when she only has one glass of wine instead of one bottle the night before. Only one glass of wine? This is serious.

Armed with my camera we head to the race in the morning - I’ve decided to try and make a video blog of the event to send home to Scotland as the scenery is just too beautiful not to share! Video at the end or here:

The start of the race has one of the most relaxed atmospheres I have ever experienced. It is hard to articulate, but people do not seem as nervous at the start of this race as is usually the case. Perhaps I am not the only one toeing the line for the scenery, food and the wine?

And we are off! 2k in and we are onto the trails. I drop my iPod and feel extremely sheepish. The use of iPods in races already divides opinion with runners and I make matters worse by trying to run back against the flow of runners to pick mine up. SORRY, but I enjoy nothing more than running through beautiful surroundings with my buddies, Taylor and Ed, singing to me.

The crowds part and we are running through vineyards, actually running through the rows of vines that end up making WINE, the kiwis seem to be oblivious to this fact but I am running through thinking that this is how Charlie must have felt in the Chocolate Factory.  I then get confused as to where I am for a minute when I see some bagpipers!

I start to get quite hot. Scotland rarely goes above 15 degrees so I’m not built to handle the heat. I know we are to get wine at some point and I manage to convince myself that they are going to give us wine DURING the race. I’m not sure if that is allowed but the thought is keeping me from passing out with the heat. The first check point arrives and I scour it looking for wine. They have honey (yum) and some water, but no wine…

Around 10k, I am very VERY hot. You can see in my video that my face is very very red.  I start to become obsessed with water or wine. Water or wine. Or Jesus. Who can turn water into wine. Win: Win. We get to the checkpoint and there is water AND sauvignon blanc sorbet – I’ll TAKE IT!!! The sorbet is the best thing I could have been given. I walk along enjoying the scenery and taking a wee video whilst I eat my sorbet. I hold back from patting myself on the back whilst thinking life is pretty sweet.

Around 14k, we run alongside the Wairau River. I contemplate jumping in to cool down but think the embankment is too steep for me to get back out. Don’t do it Heather! There will be more food or wine soon. A fellow runner must have noticed that I was ready to jump as he decides to distract me by talking about the scenery. He also tells me that If I enjoyed the Hanmer half marathon and here, that I should consider entering a race in Twizel in October. I’m not really sure what the rest of our conversation involved as I couldn’t get over the fact that there is a place called Twizel.  A really cool bongo drummer gives me a smile and some words of encouragement and I forget that I was even hot and contemplated jumping into a random river.

The next aid station has lollies (aka sweeties to the UK) and water. I start to run towards the lolly lady and imagine that I must resemble the Tazmanian Devil. A Scottish slobbering sweaty mess talking gibberish. If she was disgusted, she did a good job of not showing it! Marshals are awesome, aren’t they?

At 17k, I spy some more handsome men wearing kilts and playing the bagpipes. I seem to be the only person who think bagpipers are an unusual sight for a race that isn’t in Scotland. I love it. New Zealand is keeping me on my toes!

Around 19k, I make another friend who tells me I am looking too fresh. She clearly never saw the red face phase that the sorbet cured. We indulge in small talk until my focus is moved to the two lovely girls who are handing out something that seems to be making people happy. As I approach, I try to hide my disappointment when I think she is handing us grapes. I am then corrected that it is butterscotch truffles– much better! I go to butterscotch truffley heaven that could only have been made better with some wine.

20k – I accept that it is unlikely that we are going to get any wine DURING the race. Probably best as I have already consumed a variety of items and I’m not sure my liver could process wine on top of that. Another person tells me I look too fresh and comfortable. I look down to the puddle of sweat on my t-shirt and seriously contemplate what part of my red faced, slobbering, snottery, sweaty self seems to be giving people the impression that I am fresh and comfortable?

The last kilometre is counted down. As I approach the finishing line 3rd placed female Megan Murdoch hands me a bottle of wine. This, ladies and gentleman, is exactly why I am friends with this girl. She reads my mind.

We head for some bales of hay to sit on and have a nice glass of orange juice… I’m kidding… we had some wine, of course! Out of the cardboard cups that were meant for water. Priorities, people. Wine first, water second.

The after event is same as the half marathon - awesome! You would think a school hall is a questionable venue but it has been transformed with lights, food stalls and trees and is just gorgeous and the food is amazing! We dance the night away and head home before midnight so that I do not turn into a pumpkin. 

If anyone picked up a white slipper, it’s mine.

Till next year St Clair!

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Orr On The Run: Wharfedale Hut Run - Take 2 (with video)

Since I do not have many races coming up, I have decided that I will start to blog about my runs! I'm usually as buggered as a race at the end, so same same. But different.

Been increasing the mileage and wanted to re-hash a route I had attempted a couple of weeks before with my husband and our mountain bike buddies (See HERE)! This time there were no mountain bikers, but my running buddies Megan, Hamish and Moja (the dog).

We met for a coffee to celebrate me getting out of bed, then headed off on the hour drive to Mount Oxford. A dodgy moment with a river crossing and we were at the car park ready to go!

I put together a video for my family, but since we are all family here, you guys can check it out if you like :)

CAVEAT: This was my first ever attempt at making a video, so it looks like a drunk filmed it and a 5 year old edited it. My mum is going to be so proud. I'm having a bit of fun with these videos, so if you take it seriously, you obviously don't read my blog.

Link to the video, should the above not work:

Run went well, I was pretty tired at the start but eased into it. I had jokingly told the guys that my previous attempt was 3 hours 39 min therefore that was the target to beat. On the return I noticed the pace was increasing, with the last mile feeling like it was a sprint. They are trying to drop me, I thought. THEY ARE TRYING TO DROP ME. We hit the end and the first thing the guys do is turn and ask me if we beat the time. Time?!? I do not care about time, I’m more concerned about the blood coming out of my eyeballs!

They thought I was serious about the target and were on a mission to beat it. No need to have worried as we smashed the time by approx. 20 mins – I KNEW I WAS GETTING FITTER!!!

Some pictures of the jaunt are below for those of you who do not like shoddy videos that 5 year olds and drunks make.

Good run under the belt. Good day out. Good company. Can’t ask for much more than that, can you?
Halfway point

Don't play with axes at home children

The Wharfedale Hut - Complete with a packet of crisps pegged to the clothes line
Murdoch and Orr - Crime fighters

Tempting "waterfall" sign

Steep climb to get to the "waterfall"

The "waterfall"

Even steeper climb to get out - bloody "waterfall"

Thank God for those yoga classes

River crossing - Piggy back method

River crossing - Tree trunk method

Murdoch action shot

I'm moving (blog, that is)! For musings on my life in New Zealand, head on over to :

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Orr On The Run - Wharfedale Hut Run (Attempt 1)

Nearly a year since my last post, that can't be right...can it?

It is! Oh well, let's skip past the awkwardness and get right back into it, like long lost friends.

So I basically have zero excuses now. Nada. Zilch. Cero. Nil. There was the knee operation, then the wedding, then the holidays, then torn ankle ligaments (showing off coming down Ben Lomond) then the travelling across America, then the emigrating to New Zealand, then finding a home, moving into that home, getting a job and finally Christmas. Now there is nothing. I'm fresh out of excuses. I suppose I better get back into the running again... :)

I feel like I have been starting from scratch. No miles in the legs and 2 stone of extra insulation (aka fat) has helped remind me how hard starting from scratch can be. 

So I start with the basics, flat short lunchtime runs have helped me back back out. However after weeks of churning these out I see zero difference. I still struggle, I'm still 2 stone heavier and I'm not getting any faster. Consistency, I remind myself. Consistency.

So at the weekend I decided to crank it up a notch. Hubby and MY work mates were going a mountain bike ride on a trail up and around Mt Oxford. Come run whilst we bike, they said. It's only 10k, they said. Great idea! 10k up hill on trails is a great progression from my completely flat road airport lunchtime runs, so I sign myself up.

We meet for coffee en route and it is mentioned that they THINK it's actually 10k out and then 10k back. Okay, this is longer than planned, but will now be my first long run in...well a long time. Thankfully, after growing up with Brother Calderwood, I prepare for most of my runs to double in distance, so am prepared for a 20 mile run rather than a 6 miler.

We drive our car to the car park. Meet lots of other bikers. Great day everyone is saying. I'm still not 100% sure what a "great day" in New Zealand means but my Scottish interpretation means I am already dripping in sweat and I have only walked 10 meters! But sure, "it's a great day for it", why not.

To be fair, a great day was had. I paced myself well to the top. Got to the "saddle" before the bikers (as they were waiting on the slow yins at the back, runners don't need to wait on anyone) Now at this point most people kept continuing to the "Hut". Hut or saddle. Hut or Saddle. I couldn't remember where I was supposed to meet everyone. HUT OR SADDLE? Hut is only an extra 5k - I'll head to the hut. 

Mistake number 2 of the day - MUST start checking if 5K means 5K out and THEN 5K back or TOTAL 5K. So that's another 10K added to my run.

I head on which is all downhill. Sweet. In the euphoria of the downhill it slipped my mind that I was on a out and back run, therefore I had to about turn at the hut and then head back up the hills the hills I was sprinting down a few minutes ago.

I meet the Hubby and Rik on the way back who tell me we were SUPPOSED to meet at the Saddle and the others have headed back. Wimps. Thankfully the next section is mostly downhill, but downhill on tired legs means I face plant into a bush. Thankfully not a rock or tree, so aside from the shock, I am completely fine. Nothing like a face plant to get the heart rate up :) 

All in all a solid 17.5 mile run. I started to tire towards the end, even on the flat and downhills. I was feeling sorry for myself the last 2 miles and counting them down and had to have a stern talking to myself. I reminded myself of how completely lousy I felt in The Fling and that was nearly 3 times the distance. MAN UP HEATHER!!!

Finito! We head for coffee and cake afterwards to round up a great day. I've ran the route since and taken a wee video of it so I will get that up later this week so you can see what it looks like.

Monday, 16 June 2014

Panic training for the WHW Race

Thankfully it is not me I am referring to. It is Brother Calderwood.

The Highland Fling was somewhat of a wake up call on how his minimal training might have been enough to get him through the Fling, but not the West Highland Way Race.

So, did he then sensibly devise a training plan and pace himself? Pffft, did he heck. Panic training is what us Calderwoods do best!

So when he asked a couple of weeks ago if I fancied a long run on the West Highland Way. I, still high from finishing The Highland Fling, responded "sure, why not?".

That "long run" was 37 miles. Since it took me 2 weeks to be able to walk properly after the fling and 3 sports massages, I was a little dubious about knocking out that kind of mileage again. Especially when the only training I have done was bicep curls with a large glass of wine.

Our estimated time to complete was longer than our fling times. The train fare was double the cost of our fling entries; without any bottles of wine, t-shirts or baked potatoes. All in all it was not looking to be as much fun.

And it wasn't.

On race day adrenaline and sheer mental strength can get you through 53 miles. On a training run, you are relying on bullying from your brother, jelly beans and piri piri humus wraps. Wraps that you told your brother (who is completely adverse to any spices what-so-ever) were normal humus wraps, resulting in him nearly punching you in the face at the top of the devils staircase.

We got through it (Bridge Of Orchy to Fort William), but I feel this picture on the train home really summed me up at the end.

I need to seriously start thinking about doing some proper training if I am intending on running any 53 miles races or 37 mile training runs any time soon...ohh wait...I am my Brothers support runner for the WHW race.

Anyone up for a 37 mile training run and some piri piri humus wraps this weekend?

Looking strong...3 miles in.

Brother Calderwood looking strong coming out of Kinlochleven, post can of Irn Bru and packet of Salt and Vinegar Golden Wonders - food of champions.

Selfie - cos we are cool.


Thursday, 1 May 2014

Highland Fling: Get to Beinglas!

After a knee operation, my wedding and too many weekends away I REALLY struggled to do much running in the last 6 months. It could have been the knee operation, may have been the wedding planning or even the donuts and red wine - I guess I will never know. But it was safe to say I was nervous about even starting this year’s Highland Fling.

I was still arguing with the squirrels in my head the week before the race, you see they felt that ONE 22 mile training run and some other 12 and 15 mile runs were not sufficient training. I on the other hand felt that I had paid my entry fee and was therefore getting that bottle of wine and t-shirt one way or another.

So, the week before the race my plan was adjusted…. again:

Get a PB
Get under 10hrs
Get under 11 hours
Get under 12 hours
Get under 14 hours
Get under cut off time (15 hours)

Basically I had one goal. Get to Beinglas Farm before the cut off. Then they HAD to let me finish, even if I walked/crawled the last 12 miles. You hear me Johnny Fling? You HAD to let me finish. I’m sure it is in the rules…even if it was my version of rules.


To many peoples surprise, I showed up on Saturday am – peeing my panties. I was terrified. It didn’t help that I had not registered and that I only got my clothes sorted at midnight on the Friday and packed and cellotaped my drop bags at 4.30am on the Saturday morning, whilst my poor husband got roped into making my sandwiches. Thankfully registration was pain free. I walked up, said my number, was handed an envelope and some pins. Task 1 - Done.

Now it is time for Task 2: Get to Beinglas. Get to Beinglas. Get to Beinglas.


Annnd we are off. In Glasgow, if a large group wearing sports gear and ankle chips ran by you, your first thought would be that there had been a prison escape at Barlinnie Prison. I see a few police officers and think that the local residents may have come to the same conclusion and called them in - turns out they are only helping us to cross the roads!

Slowly I trundle on – soooo many people compared to 2011. Yet, it is not until the gate with the violin player before I make any friends. The last time I took part (2011) I spoke to 3 people. Two in the first 15 miles (Lucy and a guy (sorry never caught your name)) and then was on my own for the remainder of the race until the very end with George Cairns. This year I was determined to make more than 3 friends. My first two are Norrie and Adrian.

My new friends and I

We chat and have some banter. After two lace ties and a toilet stop we lose each other and I’m on my own again, until...guess who I meet…LUCY, one of only three runners I really spoke to in 2011. A year later we met in a pub over red wine and then we meet again, right where it all started – destiny. You will be my friend Lucy. Like it or not. 

Lucy and I chat and meet another two guys (who I had briefly had t-shirt and toilet discussions with earlier) Mark and Martin. We have some good old banter, Mark sprints down and takes a tumble on Conic Hill – he is not hurt, therefore it is HILARIOUS, we all run into the checkpoint together. 

John Kennedy pops up – telling me I am enjoying myself too much. I pretend to run. 


I am hungry. I’ve only had Cliff blocks and some gums. A super-efficient marshal hands me my Asda bag, I tear it open like a savage and eat my roll in one gulp like a duck. No real food until Balmaha - I won’t make that mistake again. 

My parents and husband are there – my mother hands me a bottle and says David left it for Craig and then Craig left it for me. I say I don’t want it, and then just as I am leaving I quickly take a gulp in case it is magic juice. Imagine being the girl who did not drink the magic juice? Turns out it was a salt tablet in water… I have enough salt and vinegar discos to feed the entire race. I do not need any more salt! 

The chat is so good that I make a conscious effort to stick with the banter gang when we leave the checkpoint, but after a while, altering your natural pace can become tiring, so Lucy and I gently push on. We indulge in some nonsense girl talk which ensures that no-one else decides to join us. 

Here is a pic of the get-a-long gang leaving Balmaha, it’s really hard to see me, but I am the giant blob in the middle with the luminous yellow t-shirt on…

Stuart MacFarlane photo


I’ve lost Lucy. I think it was just before the checkpoint, she mentioned something about not liking my pace but I am certain it is because I started eating her nuts and dried fruit! I then mentioned her sports beans and she promptly ditched me. I never got any sports beans. 

Action shot...before I lost Lucy 
(Edinburgh Sports Photography)

Marshal and my husband perform a tag team effort. She helps me with some food whilst husband helps with some water. She gives me a smile and tells me I am looking great. Liar.

Husband tells me I am half way – not in my head darling, I’ve only got 14 miles to go ;o) REMEMBER, GET TO BEINGLAS!!!

John Kennedy pops up – I pretend to run.

I have a low point here. I am determined that since I am walking every single incline that is more than 1cm that I absolutely must run the flats and down hills. A guy attempts to talk to me, he is very nice but when I am having my low points this is a battle between me and the squirrels in my head, not something a stranger can partake in. THIS IS NOT FUN. Please accept my apology if this was you. This was not a good time for me.


I run into the checkpoint, the awesome bag person hands me my goodies without me saying a word – HOW ARE THEY DOING THIS?!?! All Marshalls are preoccupied with other runners, so I have to deal with the dilemma of whether I take the new LARGE bag of sweeties or I stick with the small bag of sweeties on my own. GOSH, THIS IS HARD. I opt for the larger bag – you can never have too many sweeties. Phew. Crisis averted. I refill my water bottle and I’m off…

I pass my Clydesdale and training buddies Fiona, Anne and Stuart. I do not hang around, though. This is the ground where I excel. Perhaps it is because I am stupid and careless or perhaps my hobbit legs just work better over tree trunks but I really feel comfortable so I decide to push on and cover as much ground whilst I am feeling good.

John Kennedy pops up – I pretend to run. HOW IS HE DOING THIS?!?!


Bugger. I’m at Beinglas – what now? I originally planned to change my t-shirt (luminous yellow is NOT good for discreet toilet stops) and socks and trainers. This should have bought me some time to decide on a new plan. But by now, I want this over with. So I pop a painkiller and I’m off. My dad and husband only let me have one instead of the 3 I had planned. Later on, whilst my quads are in agony, I curse them both.

The crowds and marshals are fantastic here. I feel like I am in 1st place and not 200th. Maybe it is when I am really low I realise it, but, the shouts of positivity from so many people almost make me want to cry. Thank you so much everyone. It really did help.

I am flying solo here, I pass people, they pass me, it is constant for the whole section. Although, the stats say I moved up 39 places, so there must have been some drop outs? I want to drop out – what excuse have I got? The knee operation is a pretty good one, but I don’t want to tempt fate. I could be sick? But then I won’t get the baked potato and beer at the end. Hmmmm. I’ll keep running.

John Kennedy pops up – I pretend to run. Does he have a teleporter? I say I’m not feeling great, he tells me I am fine and to overtake the man ahead of me. Thanks for the pep talk!

I am ready to step into the bushes and go for a sleep when a guy says it is about ½ a mile to the end – I WANT TO HUG THE STRANGER – but my mum taught me not to talk (or hug) strange men, I ignore her teachings and manage to get out the words “Ohh my goodness, thank you” without crying.

I hear the piper – ohhhh my gaaaawwwwd. Get. To. The. End.

I hear a boy behind me. If he sprints past I have nothing. Thankfully he decides that he doesn’t want to, or, that he can’t. Either way it FEELS like we are both sprinting flat out, but I imagine what we REALLY look like is the 90 years olds doing the 100 meter sprint. Don’t know what I am talking about? Watch it here:

Usain Bolt vs Yohan Blake reenactment
Stuart MacFarlane photo

Music, cheers, this is AMAZING! Boooooo, hisssss, boooo, hisssss… wait a minute? My brother and his mate, Del, are in the crowd. People look at him then he explains he is my brother. Ahhhhhh makes sense. Siblings. He has finished 30 min before me. Bugger! 

I did it! My dad and husband come and take my goodies off me so I can wolf down some soup and baked potato. Beer has never tasted so good. Once my mum arrives we do not hang around. For starters I don’t know if I can stand much longer. We head to the car then straight home. 

One minute I am at Tyndrum the next I am home. Magic :o) My Husband has to help me into the house – don’t think he knew what he was signing up for in February. Sucker!



Official time of 11 hrs and 2 mins. I am absolutely delighted. From not knowing if I would even finish to a time of 11 hours makes me very very happy. It is 1 hour 20 min slower than my last time, but I’ve just had a knee operation and got married 2 months ago! So who cares!!! I am ecstatic that I finish injury free (aside from the overall agony of my body - even my ears are sore!?!).

To top things off - the ladies (Fiona, Anne and I) managed to win the first female team prize (Yes - FIRST)!!!

Team Clydesdale and our motivational speaker John Kennedy on the 22 mile training run


I probably started a tad too slow. My rough calculations show that I overtook 290 people from Drymen to the end, obviously some people drop out but I do remember overtaking A LOT of people after Balmaha! Pace yourself, people. PACE YOURSELF. I did one 22 mile training run, had 3.5 hours sleep and packed my stuff at 4.30am the morning of the race so I think my result is a testament to pacing and not training and preparation. I wonder what I could do If I got all 3 in the correct proportions? Well trained, prepared and a well-paced race. Something to aim for, I suppose…

Thanks to everyone single person who cheered, helped or spoke to me on Saturday. It was appreciated more than you will ever know.

Huge thanks to my ever suffering Mum, Dad and Husband. Not only do they have me doing this – they have my brother doing it too. Supporting not 1 but 2 divas? Amazing!!! 

Scrubbed up runner and support team

Sunday, 30 December 2012

Champagne Coma

The Marcothon - I'm out. 

Running in general - I'm out. 

Injured? No. Depressed? No. Some other reason to make me sound less pathetic, or weak, or a failure? No.

It would appear I am a drunk. Not without cause, though.

It all started on Day 15 - with me bailing out of the Marcothon, the result of one of the worst red wine induced hangovers I've ever had. The after effect of my work Christmas night out...well I had to do something to make a bunch of accountants' company enjoyable.

And basically my demise started there... I decided not to run the following day, or the day after that, then, when my laziness was no longer justifiable, I decided I would "take a break".  A break from what? I wasn't doing who knows...

Then, on Christmas morning, my stupid boyfriend proposed to me with a bobby dazzler... once my trachea reopened after a brief emotionally-triggered asthmatic anxiety attack I, of course, said yes :-).

I have been in a Champagne Coma ever since.  People have asked if I have started planning the wedding and the answer is I feel I would need to sober up before I could make any reliable decisions.

A Glee Club run on the 29th was also ditched for panto and champers on the 28th with friends. I took advantage of the impact the bubbles were having on my friends and recruited Kevin as a support runner for the WHW race.

So, to summarise my WHW training, we are now at the 30th of December and the only substantial run of the month was the WHW gangs run on 9th December.

My new years resolutions? To start running again, and plan a wedding. Simples.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

What time is it? It's Marcothon time!

What time is it? It's (nearly) Christmas time...

What does that mean to us runners? Aside from our social calendars filling up quicker than me at the Pizza Hut buffet?!?!

It means...

Starbucks RED cup time...ohhh yes...Toffee Nut Lattes, Eggnog Lattes and best of all Gingerbread Lattes! Nom nom nom nom...

No! Only kidding, although the red cups are my cue to start ramping up the red wine consumption.

This year for me it means Marcothon!

Why? Why NOT is the question!

On a serious note the WHY? is because I have been accepted into the West Highland Way Race 2013! And how do you train for a 96 mile trail race? Well I like to think running is a good start, even if it is for 3 miles each day (or 25 minutes whichever comes quicker).

I'll admit, running on Christmas Day does seem strange to me. The thought of having to tear myself away from my newest cabbage patch doll seems unbearable.

But I have to give it try. God loves a trier.  But he loves me more.