That was a F’ling long way!April 29, 2009
Highland Fling – 53 miles, 14.08.49
Despite having titled my final post before the Fling as ‘Terrified’ I did start to get quite excited later on on Thursday night and during Friday. On Thursday night this was partly due to making a special play list for my ipod for the last section although of course I ended up only using it for one song!
Managed to sleep on Friday night although was up to the toliet a few times after 4 litres of water during the day!
Got to the start at about 5.20am, usually with a big race that would seem to me a really short amount of time to get ready etc but it was plenty of time for this. It was good to see Chris (Weirunner), John and Sharon before the start.
Milngavie to Drymen – 2.06.44, 12.09 miles, ave pace 10.29m/m
I was actually a bit worried I was going too slow on this section as I have only done it with pacepusher, weirunner etc and thought I might be doing it slower without guys there. However seeing as I did it 8 mins faster than ever before then obviously not. I thought the miles flew by on this whole section and I was really enjoying it. Chatted to a couple of girls a bit and we kind of stayed roughly together just for a few miles which was nice for a little bit but I was also quite happy by myself. I have always loved the bit just after the Carbeth huts where they have just put the new gate in and it was especially nice at that time in the morning.
Break – 26 secs. I had never intended really stopping here, was just going to pick up more water and a sandwhich. Great to have the support from my mum and dad who provided 1st class support all the way. My dad did comment ‘Is that it?’ as I left. Lovely to see Silke there as well and get a hug from her.
Drymen to Balmaha – 1.37.44, 6.94 miles, 14m/m ave pace
(3.44.23 hrs total)
I had a bit of a low point as I went up the trail from Drymen as I could not manage to eat my sandwhich at all, just couldn’t swallow, so I got a bit worried at that point. That was my only low point between Milngavie and Balmaha and I really had a good time for those 19 or so miles. I had worked out when the male leaders would start to pass and it was just before I started the descent leading to the start of Conic Hill. I was pleasantly surprised that they were all saying hello as they passed! It was actually interesting watching them fly up the hill, although less so watching them fly down it as I very carefully picked my way down finding it slippier than it looked. The climb up did not seem too bad, I guess it helps having done it a few times now and so recently too just 12 days ago. It was great to see Murdo at the top with the Scottish flag and when I commented on it he offiered to take my photo with it!
Came into Balmaha a couple of minutes ahead again bringing my total time ahead of the planned finishing time of 12.30 to about 18 mins. I wasn’t worried about it at this point though as that had included a 5 min stop at Drymen which I had never really intended taking. I was having a ball up to this point and I liked the fact it was sunny as it was just making the day nicer for me.
Break: 5.19mins, ate 1/2 yogurt and some potato. Pacepusher caught me here!
Balmaha to Rowardennan – 2.03.21, 7.78 miles, 15.51m/m ave pace (5.53.04hrs total)
This is where it all started to go wrong, about a mile after Balmaha. And it ’s sickening as my legs felt good all the way to Beinglass Farm but this is where my throat problem first occured. I had the sachets of Gaviscon with me that seemed to work when I did that last training run but they certainly did not work this time. I tried my best to keep going but it is really, really painful especially when it starts spreading across my back and jars with every running step. I had asked my parents to meet me at some point along the section and they were at the point where you have been on the path on the right hand side of the road and then come down and cross over to the path right beside the loch about halfway between Balmaha and Rowardennan. I stopped for a few mins and took more gaviscon and tried to just rest it for a few minutes to see if that would help it to go away.
They said they had been directing a huge number of runners while they waited as there were a lot who were confused about where to go and that they had seen a lot of people running round on the road rather than on the WHW path which I was really shocked about.
I did feel low on this section as I knew once this throat problem started that more than likely I would have it all the way and it would not be comfortable.
I was passed by Ian a couple of times on this section though and by weirunner and it was good to see faces I knew! I also just don’t like this section very much and am not exactly sure why. It might stem from walking it years ago and it seeming such a short part of the day (went from Millarochy Bay to Beinglass Farm then) but it’s not actually that short and I don’t like the road parts of it.
Break – 10.16mins
Rowardennan – Inversnaid – 1.40.13hrs, 7.17miles, 16.20m/m ave
Really just set for this section wanting to get the hills over with! Again though had a chat with a couple of people I knew on the way up them and just tried to keep going at a good walking pace up the hills.
Just before you get some good descent down to the cottage before Inversaid Andy and Paul (pals from the gym) caught me up and as I was just starting to feel better by this point I got really excited to see them and ran with them down to the cottage chattering away. That really gave me a boost. I must have looked like I was trying to attract attention on a desert island as I was jumping up and down and waving and hollering at them as they arrived. As much as anything I was excited that my throat thing was feeling better and that the hills were over for a bit! I was feeling frustrated as my legs were fine and it was just the pain in my chest, throat and back that was holding me back.
I was stopping at the cottage to get a yogurt and a top up of water from my aunt and uncle who own it (I think they own it anyway, either that or they can use it as my uncle works for the forestry commission or something!).
That did give me a boost to see more people I knew, they were very relaxed when I arrived, sitting in the garden with their newspapers, coffee and a cigar for my uncle! Unfortunately I was keen not to stay long and ate the yogurt really quickly which then made my throat problem came back. However I kept it going okay till Inversaid since the path detioriates anyway so I was under less pressure to run consistently!
I must point out and show my blondeness (made worse by the fact that it’s fake so it’s actually just me being dim) by admitting (and remember I am female and started with all the other females at six) that it took me twenty miles from when the lead guys first started to pass me to work out why the lead females had not passed me!!!!!!!!!!!! I swear there must have been a lightbulb above my head when I finally realised!!!
Break - 5.22 mins break
I had left more potato and a muffin in a drop bag for here but only had the potato. I got strange looks but the marshall who was there was commenting how good a fuel that would be!
Inversnaid – Beinglas Farm – 2.03.00hrs, 6.65miles, 18.50m/m ave
There were a few guys at Inversnaid when I was there and I left before them, including one I would end up spending a few miles with knowing that would be a few more people to say hello to again as they passed! I think I was very good at letting people passed, in fact most of the time I stopped and moved off the path much earlier than needed and would then be waiting for them to pass for a bit!
I felt better again with my throat a bit into this section and was able to power along, well as much as you can on that section. I quite like this section though as the pressure is off and it’s fun to be climbing about! Although there were a couple of times I complained that my legs were too short to get up some parts!
I came across a group of guys and managed to tuck in behind them and stick with them. The guy I mentioned earlier at Inversnaid came up behind me as was happy to stay there and chat on a section where you can’t get any pace up anyway. So once we came out into the open I managed to stay with them for a bit and they can only have arrived into Beinglas just before me. In fact the guy behind me (who did overtake) was still there. Actually he asked my parents for painkillers but unfortunately my dad had run out and mine were in the car. They said they would see him at Carmyle Cottage and give him some, which they did.
Break – 4.43 mins
Ate some more potato just I think and my mum and was commenting how much better I looked at this point than I had at Rowardennan. I explained that my throat thing had gone and I felt good (That wouldn’t last long!) I had a moan about how that had spoiled my time and I was really frustrated as I enjoyed the run so much when that was not bothering me and had run better than I thought I would without that.
Beinglass Farm- Carmyle Cottage – 1.17.40hrs, 4.04miles, 19.04m/m ave pace (11.31.22 total)
Although my 12 1/2 hour schedule was out the window now I still had what seemed like plenty of time to make it under 13 hours and I went off feeling really positive. First though I had a sudden realisation, and I am so glad I did, that I had had another dim moment and had maybe told the marshalls the wrong number (by mistake I hasten to add) – I had said 301 instead of 103. I had to phone my dad and ask him to go back and check, and indeed I had said the wrong number! Thank goodness I realised.
It was right after this though that my legs just buckled and had had enough. And no wonder after 42 miles when my longest training run was 35 miles. I was a bit shocked as not half a mile before my legs had felt great but I well and truly hit the wall! I walked most of the way to Carmyle Cottage feeling wrecked but determined to finish as times slipped further away.
Break – 4.48 mins
Pacepusher was at Carmyle Cottage with my parents, and the dog but I think he was crashed out in the car as I did not actually see him until several hours later when I finally got in the car! Managed most of a muller rice at this point and this really quickly helped my legs to pick up a bit. I had not been eating enough during the day because of my throat and so really noticed a difference after eating this.
Carmyle Cottage – Auchteryre Farm – 1.51.03hrs, 5.94 miles, 18.43 m/m ave pace (13.27.03 total)
I managed some running at this point to get to the forest although I was slightly worried that I heard thunder about five mins before entering the forest. Was there going to be lightening and are you not supposed to stay out in the open if there is rather than in among trees????
The climbs here seemed to last forever and I was feeling really low, a lot to do with the fact that I knew any times I would be happy with were gone. My chest was bothering me again, my legs were sore now and my feet were also sore for the first time ever with especially the downhills bothering them as my toes jarred into the front of my shoes.
Before I reached the downhills though I was overtaken to someone (one of the Jim’s I think!) and unfortunately, right in the spirit of the race, this person was nice to me and commiserated with me that it was tough going etc. Well I could only get the word yes out as I was going to start blubbing if Isaid anything else, in fact I couldn’t get any words out anyway and it’s because he was nice to me – I can’t handle that when I am feeling emotional already!
My mum met me at the bottom of the hill, although that was only after I went the wrong way at the exact same spot I did in Feb with Paul. I was not going to be accused of cheating so I tramped my way back up the hill, unsure how far back up I was going to have to go to find the path and definitely virtually in tears at that point. She ran with me to the gate after the houses before Auchteryre and at that point we went to a walk and I ate a muller rice again while going through. I prefer that to stopping I think and if I did ever do the WHW race I would definitely do that at some check points, rather than stopping.
Auchteryre Farm – Tyndrum – 34.47mins, 2.21 miles, 15.46m/m ave pace
I ran/walked from here to Tyndrum and it seemed to go really quickly. I ran round the forest part and then walked round the houses there, already feeling emotional thinking of the finish. And then I saw Silke waiting for me at the fence. I remember just getting hugged by her, bursting into tears and saying “It didn’t go to plan”. I was unbelievably touched to see her waiting there, in fact I am welling up again writing this, and she ran in with me to just before the end.
I had no idea, although Silke did tell me as we ran round, that there would still be quite a lot of people there and of course that made me worse emotionally. I wept crossing the line, chuffed to have finished but upset that it was a longer than I wanted it to be.
I was a state within a couple of minutes! My legs totally seized up and I was walking, when I even managed that, like I had two footballs between my knees! I hope that doesn’t sound rude, I was strugging to come up with something! I tried to drink a Coors but in 2 hours only managed 1/2 a bottle just because of my throat. I did try really hard though and really wanted it! I had been thinking about a beer for about the last 20 miles, even though I only drink one about twice a year!
As a lovely touch at the end of the day my dad gave me an envelope that someone had passed to him at the start of the race with a donation for me for buying teaching materials to take to Malawi. I don’t know what it was as they wished to remain anonymous but I presume they read this blog so thanks very much and I will post photos of whatever I buy on my blog – it will probably be teachers guides for phonics and grammar – badly needed and really wanted by the teachers there.
I was in such pain that night and really struggled to sleep as I just could not get comfortable, which led into just as sore a day on Sunday!
There has been some debate about this on the Highland Fling forum, which I have left a post on, but although sheer determination would have carried me to the finish on Saturday, especially with the thought of the £1160 I have raised so far in the back of my mind I would not have enjoyed my day so much without my parents there as a support crew especially for the first ultra I did. I did not have complete confidence that more than my legs not being strong enough to get me to the end, I was not sure I had the mental strength to do it. Although having to prove pacepusher wrong always helps! Having them there and knowing when I would see them helped tremendously, especially when I was struggling. My dad particuarly has been brilliant at doing support for both pacepusher and I this year and last in training runs and it would not have been the same not to have him there for the actual race. Although I was worried I was taking my mum away from work she had to be doing, again she was a great help and a very enthusiastic photographer! So a huge thanks to them for first class support!
I totally loved the day and can’t wait till next year, although like Debs not totally sure what I will do as it clashes with London. I have a place for next year since I got a place this year but deferred it to do the Fling this year – not as good as saying I have a place for running 3.31! I know I need to sort out this throat thing – someone at work has now given me different tablets to try and I will get prescription out from the doctor and try that. I felt really flat on Monday that it was all over and that I had to wait another year to do it again and get a better shot at a time, although partly flat I think with disapointment at my time. Really want to use this as a motivation though get training more seriously and take my marathon time down too.
I’ll try and get some photos on Flikr soon as there are some of Marco, John and maybe some others.
Food I had:
some grapes (not as many as usual as they weren’t very nice)
1/4 egg sandwhich
about 8 jelly babies
1/2 muller yogurt
some mashed potato and sweet potato
1 muller yogurt
most of 2 muller rice
1 bite muffin!