I have a long hill race next month, and will be away early in the month, and so needed to get some distance in now to prepare. High pressure has been sitting on Scotland all week, and this made for perfect conditions for a much-needed longer run in the hills.
I drove to the small town of Tillicoutry, and parked on a street that bordered a small creek.
Facing the other direction, the hills awaited.
After adjusting my running pack, returning to the car to get my headband and gloves, I started the climb. I was hoping to do 12 miles or so, and wasn't worried about pace. I just wanted to get some hills in my legs, even if that meant some walking.
I quickly warmed and shed a long sleeve shirt.
Nearing the top of the first hill, I could look back down to Tillicoutry and the surrounding countryside.
I headed deeper into the hills. I stopped to chat with an older walker who was heading over a few of the hill tops, and then carried on. Because of the dry spell, the ground was mostly firm, with just the occasional boggy bit. I headed up and down, and finally descended near Glendevon resevoir. I was six miles in, and hungry. I polished off my Snickers bar, and wished I'd had something more to eat.
I start to head back, and took a road that led through a wind farm. Up close, the windmills were huge.
After the windmills, I took a track to the top of the hills, and then followed a good path to the summit of Ben Cleuch - the highest hill in this group. Looking towards the north, I could just make out the remnants of snow in the highland mountains.
And then there was a long descent. I was feeling my lack of energy at the end, but had a coke and a breakfast bar when I reached my car.
My race next month will be about 18 miles, but this 12 mile run gave me a some cause for optimism in my improving fitness.