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**Warning** Very late, very long WHW report!

August 3, 2012

Well, finally back from a month travelling and getting my WHW race report posted.  I have been putting off finishing writing it as it seems so long ago and a bit pointless doing it now but it will be useful to have as a record so here goes.

Leading up to the Race

It was a busy and emotionally/mentally draining lead up to the race, particularly Thursday and Friday.  I slept well until the Thursday, that wasn’t a great night and woke up early on the Friday morning.  Usual manic Friday at work but it was fine and I got home sharp although didn’t go for a lie down until 4:30 after making sandwiches!  Neal had done a lot for me during the day but there were certain things I wanted to do myself. 

 Didn’t manage to sleep at all although I kept trying and I felt awful with a sore throat and sore head etc which had been lurking for a few days. Made up my mind I would take paracetemol about midnight and hope it disappeared.  I have to say at this point I was pretty terrified before we left the house and feeling very negative.  This did go away a bit once we were in the car and even more once we got to Milngavie. 

 Milngavie

It was lovely meeting up with everyone and they were all trying to calm me down! 

We had a little while to sit in the car which was fine, before going to listen to the race briefing.  The last people I talked to before we started were Fiona, Pauline and Alyson and that was great as they were just telling me to keep calm, relax and enjoy it!

 

Milngavie to Drymen – 12 miles, 2.25, 12.00m/m

I loved the start of the race, I thought it was a lovely atmosphere and all the people cheering us on was great, I especially remember Lucy with her cow bell.  I had a bit of a lump in my throat at this point and had to tell myself to get a grip!

We all seem to have different memories of the weather at the start, I thought it was dry; for all of six mins!  I remember looking at my watch to see how long it was it had been dry for.  At least it wasn’t that heavy at first and not cold right at that point although I felt colder from before the Beech Tree Inn, which is when it started really pouring down.  I didn’t talk a lot to people, I know it’s unsocialable but I know I need to get my breathing right and settle into my own rhythm.  I don’t know it it’s just me but I find the time goes really fast in the night which is always good!  I decided early on not to bother skipping the puddles as I remember Andy Cole writing last year that he thought a lot of people wasted a lot of energy trying to do this early on.  Neal met me at the garden centre and had to open a bag of jelly beans for me as my hands were too wet to do it.

 rymen to Balmahan – 6.94 miles, 1.56, 16.54m/m

I passed through Drymen just 3 mins past my schedule, which I wasn’t fussed about at all and didn’t pause as Neal was meeting me at the forest instead.  I was pretty wet when I got there and changed my top and jacket which even with the rain I hadn’t expected to be as soaked as that.  Alyson and I had passed each other 2 or 3 times already by this time and she was great, so encouraging every time which I really appreciated but probably didn’t show at the time.

 I started to feel really rough again just before going up Conic Hill, with a sore throat etc so took some more paracetemol although it just wasn’t kicking in.  Trudged up anyway and got up there ok, in fact was chatting to someone else most of the way up which helped, although I did fall as I wasn’t concentrating.  As everyone else has already said it was just like wading up a river and I just remember thinking how crazy this all was.  Always planned on taking my time going down the other side and there was not much choice really.  Was a few minutes behind schedule into Balmaha but again wasn’t bothered; the weather alone could account for it.

 Balmaha to Rowardennan – 7.74 miles, 1.58, 15.22m/m

Felt my first low in Balmaha.  I was just going to go straight through but Neal asked if I wanted a running buddy as Louise had been threatening to drop out and he had been saying she could go with me so waited a couple of minutes for her and off we went.  Neal met us at a couple of points and was pleased to see we were moving along fine.  Louise was way faster than me on the uphills but even though I told her just to go ahead of me she would then wait for me and we ran together on straights and downhills.  This was until nearer Rowardennan when I became aware that Louise was running less/starting to walk more quickly than she had been and I had a funny feeling she was struggling again.  And it was around this point she said she was going to stop at Rowardennan, having already spoken to a friend on the phone about it.  It was great to have her company for a while and I know she will be back to do the race justice.  I had been starting to struggle with my asthma during this section and commented to Louise that I was having to use my inhaler a lot, and it wasn’t working!  This was different to my throat thing and I have never had as much trouble with the asthma as I did that day.  I’ve only had it a couple of years and am still getting to grips with it really.

 I remember saying to Neal when I got there that I didn’t have the bottle to do this, which he brushed aside, quite rightly!  I did complain about my breathing as well though and he told me to take a minute and calm down.  He had everything ready for me and I just stood against the car and got my breath.  I was supposed to be taking my twice daily inhaler at this point but both of us forgot.  This was probably a big mistake for what came next and from now on I will always carry both even though I should only be taking that one first and last thing in the day.

 Rowardennan to Inversnaid – 7.07miles, 2.05, 17.48m/m

I ran probably about half of the way to the hills but was really struggling to breathe and stopped at the start of the hills and pretty much had a panic attack, or as close to one as I have ever had anyway.  It was pretty scary and I wasn’t sure what to do.  I thought I was going to have to phone Neal and either stop or have him bring out the other inhaler.  Decided to carry on though and thought about texting Neal and telling him I was having trouble breathing but thankfully decided it was not a good idea to have him worrying about that for another 20 miles, mostly without phone reception!

 I had put the last whw podcast on my phone to listen to Debs reading out her race report and had deliberately kept it for this point so that, and the other bits on it, kept me going a bit.  I do remember stopping a lot to try to catch my breath and still being fairly panicked.  Keith Hughes past me somewhere along here and he got me going a bit though.  Memories are fading quickly of this part of the race, I’m assured that happens with childbirth too but I’ll take others word for that!

 I seem to remember coming into Inversnaid feeling okish, had barely touched the food I had so did not take any from my drop bag but just left straightaway taking out some shortbread to eat.  I had no desire to hang about in the cold.  I had found the streams to cross before Inversnaid almost dangerous as they were so deep and with short legs it was really hard to get across them, especially by myself.

Thanks to Karen for this photo. Neal saved it and I can’t be bothered cropping it!

 Inversnaid to Bogle Glen – 12.59miles, 4.56, 23.34m/m

Hated the next section to Beinglass; breathing was awful and I was really panicking, it was so slippy and hard to get any rhythm going and the midges were doing my head in….literally!  Silke caught me up here and stayed with me for a while but I didn’t want to hold her up and at Dario’s post she carried on.  A few more folk came past and I lied to the first few and said I was fine but the last two I did tell I was struggling with my breathing and they stayed not too far in front of me into Beinglas.  I was so, so glad to see Marco there, in fact I collapsed into him, burst into tears and moaned about having an asthma attack for 14 miles!  I ended up on a chair breathing into a plastic bag and found out later I was top of their list for those they thought would not finish the race, but thanks very much to them for all of their help and the last words I remember from them were ‘good luck’.  I had already changed tops and jackets into my good gore jacket about halfway from Inversnaid but was soaked again already.  Marco helped me into my waterproof trousers which helped keep me warm for a bit. 

I left reasonably quickly considering and Marco came after me a bit later and was trying to phone Neal for me so he could run or cycle down to pass me the other inhaler and more new clothes.  I did have full change of clothes with me, but I guess given the conditions I should have had 2 full changes of kit with me – would be interested to know if anyone else did!

 Next section was miserable too, similar story – breathing was awful and I walked the whole way to Bogle Glen and got completely frozen.  There were 3 or 4 other guys around me the whole time and they were all walking the whole way too which I suppose made me feel a bit better but also gave me no incentive/motivation to run. I was desperate to see Neal or Chris appear and about ¼ of a mile from the gate Chris appeared and gave me the other inhaler.  By this time I was wheezing like a lung cancer patient, scaring myself and so cold I couldn’t care less what happened.  As far as I was concerned the only place I was going was down to the car and home! I remember Dave Waterman being here and he told me the next day he thought I would be stopping at the next checkpoint. I was given no choice here though.  Chris was telling me not to dare get emotional as we got to the gate and all I remember is being barrelled up the hill to the picnic bench, my top was stripped off, I was dressed again while someone else fed potato into my mouth and I was pushed off on my way before I’d even had a chance to speak with them shouting to walkers not to let me get behind them!  It’s quite comical now to think about and was very much like a formula 1 pit stop!

 Bogle Glen to Auchteryre.  I didn’t lap the watch anymore.  Changed here so Bogle Glen to Kinlochleven, 34.28 miles, 11.55 hrs, 20.52m/m

So I was amazed to find myself off onto the hills through the forest.  This is the first point where I can’t thank my crew enough (and Marco) as I can categorically admit that I would have stopped here if I had been given a choice and they know me that well that I just wasn’t given a choice!  That other inhaler slowly began to make a big difference although I was still to rely on both of them a lot for the rest of the day, not caring that I was only supposed to take the white one twice a day as that was the one that was making the biggest difference.

 I think I started doing some running again through here again and was amazed at how rejuvenated I started to feel with new warm clothes on and I think I made ok time through to the road.  I passed one of the guys that had been around me and he was a bit stunned to see me running again I think. I usually hate the next wee bit to the farm but don’t think I minded it this time.  Neal ran out a little to meet me from the farm and told me that Sharon, Debs, Marco and John were all there which made me get emotional before I even got there, especially when we passed Mark and Geraldine just before the farm.  They were all wonderful and gave me huge hugs and lots of encouragement.  My mum got a photo of Debs giving me a hug and she had enveloped me that much that all you can see of me is one arm!

I’m not that fat, my pockets were stuffed full of things!

 

I hadn’t lost any weight at this point which was a good sign.  I think I did a complete change of clothes here but didn’t want to see my feet so getting running tights off and on over my shoes was a bit of a struggle.  I had always said I wanted to get to Tyndrum myself and then take support but I was desperate for company to keep me going so Neal started here with me. 

Auchteryre to Bridge of Orchy

I got sent off with a muller rice and Chris cycled along making me eat it all before I was allowed to go under the bridge.  Think I did ok here and ran quite a bit but still taking breathing stops I remember as Neal kept giving me into trouble for leaning over and was saying I should be upright with my hands on my head.  I must have struggled with the breathing the whole time as this was a reoccurring argument, which he then claims I did straight away when Chris told me too thus reinforcing his opinion that I take no advice from him; only John and Chris!

 Silke’s support crew were at Tyndrum and they were so encouraging and helpful, it was great.  I was quite overwhelmed by that.  I only stopped to take one of my jackets off as I was getting too warm now and again Neal was coming with me but Chris walked up for a minute making me eat.  Like Silke I hated my cheese sandwiches today but still loved my marmite ones, well till 80 miles anyway.  I know I ate hardly any sweet stuff – a few jelly beans, some shortbread leaving Inversnaid and a couple of bits much later on that I’ll tell about later.  I am going to be sticking to savoury I think from now on.  I did eat quite a lot of marmite sandwiches, some grapes, yogurt, muller rice, a little bit of my mashed sweet potato, but I’ve totally gone off that now too and I can’t remember what else until this point.  I also had tea here for the first time.  I have never drunk tea, or anything hot, on runs as I think it aggrevates my throat problem but it didn’t seem to bother me today and I had it at a couple of points.

 

 

I wasn’t great from Tyndrum to Bridge of Orchy, I wasn’t running as much as Neal wanted me too although we did go past a couple of people.  I had a good bit after the bridge but was walking again after that until it started to descend to the railway station.

 Bridge of Orchy to Glencoe

The plan had been that my second support crew would meet me at Glencoe but I was so far behind my schedule by now that they were at Bridge of Orchy when I arrived there and it was lovely to see them.  Up to this point it had been Neal by himself to Rowardennan, then he had gone home and was picked up by Chris and they both did to Glencoe.  My mum and dad were also about from Bogle Glen to Kinlochleven.  They were not officially in my support crew and were there to support another runner as well and watch the race but they did provide a lot of support to me as well.

 My second crew was Susan, my sister in law, Keir a friend of ours who had previously supported Neal in the race and Susan’s dad was driving.  The plan had been the only places both cars would be at the same time was Glencoe and Kinlochleven which with lots of car parking I felt would be fine.  So they also ended up being at BoO but I was so late by that time that it was not too busy.

 I also ended up with one more support crew member which I had no idea of until BoO.  Paul, another friend of ours, had been supposed to be support to someone else who had had to pull out this week so through facebook on the Saturday morning Susan realised this and invited Paul to come up with them.  He just came up in his jeans and ended up borrowing kit from Neal and joining me on a couple of sections.  It was only one more person in their car rather than an extra car and was lovely for him to be able to be there when that had been his long term plan, albeit for someone else!

 

My race instructions had been very clear that I did not want to hang about at checkpoints so Chris was pushing me out as quickly as possibly and poor Sean was trying to make sure I was fine and was a bit surprised by the way I was getting motored on.  I discovered a new super food here.  Susan had brought pizza, not really for me I don’t think but I was offered it and loved it!

 Neal carried on with me here and again Chris and Susan came up for a minute or so to help me (make me) eat which was not a problem here as I loved the pizza, although not the crusts.

 I was probably on schedule for this section.  Marched up the hill pretty well and it was great to see Murdo here which really lifted my spirits.  Overtook a few people here running quite well on the downhill and the road round to the car park where Chris was waiting.  He was coming with me across Rannoch Moor and Neal would drive his car round to Glencoe.  I remember taking a minute or two here to sit down but it wasn’t long.  We ran round to the house I think and then marched up the long drag overtaking and talking to a few people. 

 I remember doing a lot of fast marching on this section and not too much running apart from the descent before the last climb and the descent to Glencoe.  The sun even came out for a few minutes and I remember being quite happy on this section.  Chris was good company and I talked to John on the phone on this section too. 

  Internally though I was still sure I was not going to make it and was just happy I had given my support crew something to come out for so far.   I remember thinking if I could just make it to bottom of the Devil’s staircase or maybe Kinlochleven that would be worth it for them coming all this way.  Thankfully they had a bit more faith in me and at no point was I allowed to talk about not finishing.  I think I only really moaned with Neal, which is understandable I suppose.

 Glencoe to Kinlochleven

I changed some of my clothes here again and ate more pizza but did not stop for long.  It was lovely to see George and Karen here.  Keir joined me from here to the bottom of the DS and I took crisps and sanwhich with me.  I ate some but then started running again straightaway and struggled a bit with indigestion.  

 

 

 

Once we were past Kingshouse I phoned my brother as he had phoned deliberately while I was on Rannoch Moor but it hadn’t come through.  It was lovely to speak to him, he had been following the race online and from Susan.  I was feeling reasonably positive at this point and thought my lowest point was behind me (Rowardennan to Bogle Glen) so when he was telling me that from looking at my splits it was well within reach to run a negative split for the race I started to feel even more positive – how naïve I was!

 I ran well on this section though and enjoyed having different company.  Keir is a secondary PE teacher and passionate about running and sport in general.  He was great at encouraging me and we really picked up the pace, maybe too much in hindsight but I enjoyed it!  Passed Alyson MacPherson here and it was lovely to see her again and as before she was so encouraging.  I caught up with Silke just before the staircase and she must have been very surprised to see me considering how I was the last time she had seen me away back before Beinglass Farm.  Again her support crew were so encouraging and excited.

 The plan had been here that Susan was coming to Kinlochleven with me but Keir and Paul had decided to walk up the staircase with us and then they were going to do their own run down into Kinlochleven I think.  Thank goodness they were there as this is where it went horribly wrong for the second time.  I made it up the staircase ok, I was slow but not too much slower than normal.  I remember though that I couldn’t eat anymore.  I kept trying but was just spitting everything out as I couldn’t stand it.  I don’t think there was any pizza though as I might have managed that.  I really only had sweet stuff and as I said earlier I just wasn’t enjoying that even in the earlier stages so I had no chance now. 

 It was on this section that I realised how much Susan had done without being asked. (Although I’m told the pizza was my brother’s idea as he felt she did not have enough food with her, and then she barely got any anyway.)  She had brought various treats to tempt me with, one of which was tangerines which she had peeled and taken the skin off of.  I managed some of these and grapes but both of them I was basically sucking the juice out of and then spitting out all the bits.  Better than nothing but not giving me much energy really!

I still don’t know what happened when I got over the top of the staircase.  It was light enough that we still did not have the head torches on, I was desperate to keep from putting mine on my head as long as possible and consequently did not put it on the whole way to Kinlochleven and just used the others light.  I just couldn’t bear to put it on my head but it was pretty stupid really.

 I just really started to struggle with the downhill, I probably just did not have the energy to pick my way over the stones and water.  I was looking forward to this section but it just became torture.  I took 3 hours just to get from the top of the staircase to Kinlochleven.  I held onto Keir and Susan nearly the whole was and must have only been going about 2 miles an hour.  It didn’t get any better when the path got better either.  Susan was brilliant, she used to work with Deafblind Scotland and was great at leading me down.  I knew my support at Kinlochleven would be getting worried and they phoned a couple of times.  They were getting told we were nearly there but I knew we weren’t.  As exhausted as I was I was lucid enough to be able to stop at a couple of points and check we were going the right way and shouted at Paul straightaway when he started going down the wrong path to go ahead and meet Chris.  I think he was going the same way Paul Giblin had gone the previous year.

 I sat down on a stone in the middle of the path at one point, I was just completely exhausted and everyone that came past was extremely encouraging.  Susan at one point offered some coconut sweet but said it had chocolate on it.  Now I had been adamant I did not like chocolate while running so she offered to take the chocolate off.  She was joking but I didn’t realise this and said that would be great so she nibbled the chocolate off what I assumed was something like a bounty bar but was actually more like an after eight!  Apparently the boys were doubled over laughing at her hamster like nibbling.  Thankfully I ate it at least, although it was a real struggle.  I remember saying at one point to Keir that I couldn’t do another 14 miles like this and quite rightly he said just think of the next checkpoint just now.  But I really thought I was going to be stopping at Kinlochleven, I could not conceive of how it would be possible for me to carry on.  I think the whole way my legs were okish and my feet certainly were, it was all mental, exhaustion and asthma problems that were hindering me.

 Chris came out to meet us about a mile before Kinlochleven and was doing everything he could to wake me up a bit and get me going.  I didn’t know why at the time but he was taking off my hat and gloves just to annoy me and even slapped my face, gently I’m sure, but I don’t really remember that.

 I was aware everyone was trying to make me able to go into the checkpoint by myself, get weighed and get back out again fairly quickly however I kind of knew that wasn’t going to be possible.  I totally thought I was finished and that there was no way I could carry on from here.  I had to be held up on the scales and had lost half a stone between Auchteryre and here, which probably goes part way, along with sleep deprivation, to explain how I was feeling and was very close to that lower weight written on the card.

 I collapsed into a chair and think I was just bent over double.  I knew John was there but was not able to acknowledge his greeting.  Chris Ellis saw me at this point and just lifted me up and carried me into the hall with the mattresses and laid me down on one.  For all that I still thought I was finished I never voiced that and no-one, thankfully, mentioned it to me either.  I’m not sure if I had been on support crew with someone being like that I would have been thinking they could carry on so massive thanks to my crew for still having hope I could finish!  Although I did freak my parents out a bit!  It must have been bad as my mum stopped taking photos – although afterwards I did say I would have liked to have seen how bad I looked at this point!

 I am sure I did not sleep, I had my eyes closed but was listening to everyone else.  Partly this was because I was so cold and I wasn’t really under my clothes but I felt it because my feet were so wet and cold so Neal, I think, changed my shoes and socks for me which I had been adamant I wasn’t doing but my feet were fine anyway (how, I don’t know) and I needed them warm.  I got my blood pressure, heart rate, sugar levels done etc and I remember Chris and Jenny at different points asking me questions which I was able to answer.  I heard afterwards Chris was also asking John if I had done the training etc – that was the right person to ask!  John has known my training plan better than anyone else for this race, for starters he helped me make it up!

 Eventually I kind of half sat up and had some food – tomato soup which I had had ready for here just in case I needed it.  That was great but the tin of macaroni cheese I had bought at the last minute was not so good.  Next time it will be my own but it really was just bought as a last resort!  I started to perk up a bit after that but it took a long time to get me on my feet.  During all of this this Neal read me out a text message that Debs had sent to both of us, which was good thinking on her part to send it to us both as if it had just been to me I would probably not have seen it till the end.  It said: 

 “Mrs G.  You totally f&£king rock!  Today is not about who is the fastest, it’s survival of the strongest!  You’ve got where you are because you are strong.  Go on and kick ass!!!  You’re my new hero! Debs xxx”

 It was my support crew and that message and John that got me out of that door again and I cannot imagine if that had been a race like the Lakeland 100 or UTMB that I would have been able to carry on from there without a crew and without support with me.

 I had been getting texts from other people as well, particularly Louise that I used to do a lot of marathon training with and even though we hadn’t seen each other in ages she knew exactly what to write which kept me going at some earlier points.

 It still took ages though – I tried to get up but couldn’t and ended up transitioning into a chair for a while until I could get onto my feet.  My first test was to walk to the toilet and Susan came with me, not letting me lock the door and kept shouting in to make sure I was ok.

 Even once I was ready it took ages to leave, I was leaning on the snooker table unable to hold myself up still and wondering in my head how I was possibly going to make it.  In my head I was going to walk up the hill onto the Larig Mor and decide from there.

 I know Chris was not particularly happy about letting me go but I think was placated slightly that I had experienced people in my crew who could ensure my safety over Larig Mor.  Julie as well, did tell me afterwards that she was very surprised to see me collecting a goblet on Sunday!  I must have been in there for nearly an hour and a half, that certainly hadn’t been part of the plan!

 Kinlochleven to Fort William – 14.47 miles, 5.15 hrs, 21.46m/m

When I actually got going I left the centre at a reasonable pace and in a positive mood I think.  That’s how I remember it anyway, others may say differently!  The plan had been for Keir and Susan to come with me on this section but Neal came as well.  I remember the first half of this section to Lundavra being ok, I walked at a reasonable pace and ran a bit as well although not as much as Neal would have liked!  Then the second half was awful, think I was running out of energy again, although I had eaten in the leisure centre this had only replaced the energy I lost before that I think, not given me any extra to carry on very far with.  I had actually probably eaten the most I have ever have while running but still not anywhere near enough.

 

The guys were great though, they just took it in turns to stick with me and chat away and Chris came out to meet us maybe about a mile from Lundavra and was his usual Seargeant Major self, not letting me moan and barrelling me along to the checkpoint.  I would not have planned on stopping here but needed to refuel and have a break and there was a chair there.  Had it not been for the midges I would have found it very difficult to leave!  I still did not think I was going to finish, coming up to Lundavra I was thinking I was going to have stop there as I just couldn’t imagine doing even one more section.  There was no way I would have been allowed to that of course.  If I had even mentioned it I’m sure they would just have sent the car away so I had no choice!

 I’ve been a vegetarian since I was 15 but by now there was only chicken pizza.  However I was so desperate by then for savoury food that somebody picked the chicken off and I ate that, with relish!  Neal was very disappointed when he really realised I had finished it as I think he thought he was getting it!

 Neal, Chris and Paul came with me from Lundavra with Susan and Keir going with her dad to wait at the Braveheart Car Park to run in with me from there.  I had taken about 3.5 hrs to get to Lundavra including the stop there and so it took another 1hr 45mins to get to FW which I thought was going to take considerably longer.  Chris stayed right by my side the whole way to the top of the forest, encouraging me to eat – bit of a fail – and drink which I fairly obediently did.  I kept wanting to stop to have a rest though and I just was not allowed. 

 What happened when we got the top of the forest I still cannot believe.  We caught up a couple of people just at the top and I was instructed not to let them pass me again, plus soon afterwards we could see some other people in front.  I started running at the top of the forest and ran from there the whole way to the leisure centre, apparently doing 8.00 – 8.30m/m the whole way.  I hadn’t even been doing that in training never mind at the end of this!  Overtook another few people and I was chasing others who I later found out were totally made up by Neal and Chris just to keep me going.  I might have found most of the race a struggle and felt I did badly but at least I can feel I finished strongly.  Keir and Susan were surprised to say the least to see me come through the car park and had to jump out and run fairly quickly to catch up.  Ages afterwards in the leisure centre Susan’s alarm went off – which she had set for the time they thought I might come through the car park.

 We all ran along the road together for a bit, then they all except Neal ran on ahead to the leisure centre and at the 30mph sign, or the roundabout I can’t remember, Neal ran on too.   They were all, plus John and Katrina and I can’t remember who else, waiting at the entrance to the car park and gave me a lovely welcome.  Got inside and got a big hug from Ian who said something about hearing I’d had a bit of a struggle to get there and then went round saying thank you to and hugging my support crew and John and Katrina.  I was a little emotional, especially with JK and Katrina but not as much as I thought and it didn’t last long.  Had lost 1 more pound from Kinlochleven so 8 pounds in total throughout the race.

 

 

Post race

And then, and I feel kind of bad saying this, it felt a bit of an anti-climax!  You plan so much for the training and the race and I never thought about the finish.  I did have in huge capital letters on my plan that I would want tea at the end and I did get that although I don’t think I ate anything at this point and we sat for ages and I was feeling pretty normal.  Managed to give Neal instructions about getting my presents for my crew etc for me and spoke to my mum and dad on the phone etc.  It was lovely to see people like Mark and Geraldine and Karen Robertson and spend time with all of my support together, although I am still annoyed at myself for not getting a photo of us all together.

 Once everyone except Neal and Chris left to go back down the road I had a shower and tidied myself up and went to Morrison’s for breakfast where it was nice to see Dave Waterman, Lee, Graeme Reid, John Malcolm and Louise and Andy Cole.

 I enjoyed the prizegiving but it had never been something I thought of as a motivation for starting, or finishing.  That was all about hitting those doors at the leisure centre, I didn’t need the goblet to know I had finished.  However it did make it really extra special to get my goblet from John, which I had asked a while beforehand if that would be possible.  Getting the goblet did make me feel part of the WHW family properly though and it was nice to soak up the warm wishes from so many people before and afterwards.  Too many, and too long ago to remember properly, but having Gayle and Tracey come up to me and also Alyson MacPherson, Fiona Rennie and Keith Hughes stands out as well.  And of course Silke, Thomas and all of her support crew whom we sat with.

 

I was unable to do more than doze for a couple of minutes at a time on the way as my legs were so uncomfortable although one point that I think I was Chris was too – only he was driving and overtaking at the time!  We had a stop at the Green Welly soon after that!

 Post Post Race

Sooo, anyone who is on Facebook will know I still had a lot to learn even though the race was over!  I thought I would want a curry that night but only managed a quarter of it.  Had a great nights sleep and despite not being able to walk very well felt pretty chipper on Monday morning going into work – which lasted till about lunchtime and then I crashed big time, just in time for sports afternoon!

 Neal dropped me off on Monday and my HT (also a WHW race finisher, in 2009) was waiting outside for me with a huge hug.  She had been awake all through Saturday night getting constant updates from Neal and Susan, saying she had been too worried about me to sleep.  She had been so supportive before the race, giving me a bag of helpful gifts for the race and a card saying “remember it’s supposed to hurt!”  What a difference to have your boss understanding what you were preparing for and doing over the weekend!  There was even another finisher at our sports afternoon.  One of the pupils aunt and uncle had been running (both did it last year) although only her uncle finished this year and her mum and dad were support crew whom we had been sitting in front of at the prize giving.  There can’t be many schools with HT, DHT and parents involved in ultra running; her dad has done the Fling too!

 It was a hard week though.  After that Sunday night I got very little sleep all week and although I ate, I promise I did, I only ate enough for each day not enough to replace what I lost although to be honest I certainly did not want to put it back on anyway.  I lost 8 pounds during the race which stayed off and another 3 in the 5 days afterwards.  We finished school on Wednesday so there was lots to do there plus I was still finishing an assignment (due Thursday) and I was leaving for Malawi on Saturday and going straight from there to SE Asia for 3 weeks so had all of that to finish organising and packing for.  It was extremely stressful and I did not stop all week, there were just not enough minutes in each day to get everything done.  I was literally still organising final details of internal flights and hotels for our travelling while on the way to the airport to go to Malawi.  I am a very organised person and this really stressed me out but events and tasks had conspired against me and I wasn’t finished everything/ready as early as I usually am. 

We had Keir’s wedding on the Friday in Perth and so we were staying at my mum and dad’s other house there.  We had nothing to eat before it I don’t think and I really had very little to drink, a couple of glasses of champagne before dinner and one glass of wine during dinner.  I hardly ever drink now though so it might have been a lot for me.  However I ate a 3 course dinner which was undoubtedly the most I had eaten in one go for a week.

 After dinner I had to go outside as I was suddenly feeling very hot and weird.  Neal came out with me and held drinks and my fascinator, which I had practically ripped off to relieve the weird feeling, and as far as I was aware I put my hands out and was going to rest my head against the wall, as I had a sudden whoosh of blood to my head and felt sick.  I didn’t rest my head though, turns out I passed out and my hands weren’t there to save me so I smacked my head against the wall which brought my back again briefly before I promptly passed out again, this time falling back and smacking my head off the floor.  I was out for long enough to panic Neal and when I came to I was lying on the ground with a very sore head, feeling the warm blood on it and seeing Neal banging on the door and shouting for someone to get an ambulance while I was thinking in my head why did I need an ambulance.  I didn’t realise I had passed out twice, don’t know why I thought I was lying on the ground though!  I was lucid enough pretty quickly though to make sure my dress was still covering my up in vital places and to start to worry that I had ruined it either by blood or by dirt and grit on the ground.  Susan said she knew then that I would be alright!

 An ambulance duly appeared and we were taken off into it to the hospital in Perth, first time in an ambulance and first time bypassing the queue in Casualty!  I think we were there a couple of hours while they cleaned me up as best they could to see the damage and ended up gluing the back of my head.  They also did all sorts of tests and my blood sugar levels and blood pressure were very low.  One test they made me do was a pregnancy test and I did warn them I would pass out again if it was positive!  It wasn’t!

From this

To this

 

When we got back to the house Neal made me order a pizza but I didn’t manage very much of it.  I wasn’t able to even wash the blood out of my hair that night to let the glue dry in and it wasn’t a very comfortable night although I felt ok the next day I think and was off in the car to Edinburgh airport by lunchtime, while still organising details.  It’s not surprising I didn’t get my race report finished!  I had felt good enough (well I thought I did anyway) to go for a run by Wednesday but just did not have time for it and it’s probably just as well I didn’t!  It was all a result of not refuelling, not sleeping and not being able to take time to recover and relax, and I don’t mean just sitting on the couch all week but there just wasn’t time to sit back at all.  However there was not much I could have done about some of it.

 Malawi was a good place to recover, but I’ll save that for another post.  If anyone has actually read all of this – well done!

A massive, massive thank you to my support crew for the race plus my mum and dad who helped out more than they probably thought they would be.  It was a total team effort and there was no way I would have finished without them.  Also to John for helping me so much with setting up the training plan and the ongoing encouragement throughout it.  Katrina must have thought she was getting a year off from the race and then had me round at the house all the time talking about it – thanks for all the tea and the dinners this year!  Thanks also to everyone who text and encouraged me through the race, particularly Marco at Beinglass and Debs for that text!  And to everyone who organises and marshals etc at the race – does anyone else feel like they are giving an oscar speech at this point in their report?!

 I continue to be pleased at finishing but ever more disappointed by my finishing time – 31.40.30.  I never really thought I would be over 30 hrs.  I know I should be happy just to finish and that there were many others, particularly this year, who did not finish, or did not even make it to the start line but it’s my feelings and my blog so I can be as honest as I like.  However it does mean I had decided, probably just after my protracted stop at Kinlochleven, that I would be back to do it again, hopefully next year.  With another year of training, a bit more luck with the weather, a better racing weight to start off with, better fueling during the race and more control over my asthma I would hope I could get a better time.

 

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8 comments

  1. SUPERB!!! except the head glue 🙂 you’re a star and I hope to be on the start line with you next year x


  2. Caroline,
    Great reprt and fantastic effort from you and your support crew. It was certainly the toughest race I have done. I also struggled to eat. well done you. I enjoyed seeing you on the route and you looked so strong when you passed me going to the start of the devil. I am sure you will be back.
    Alyson


  3. Congratulations Caroline! Amazing read – just catching up on the blogs. Very inspiring – you should be very proud of that one!

    Carolyn (from Vancouver)


  4. Just got around to reading this. Really well done on the run and the story. What some of the good guys don’t understand is just how hard it can be for those of us who are not natural athletes but just want to do it. On my first WHW race I took a lot longer than you did. You’ll be back.


  5. What a fantastic report , well done . Hope you are now fully back to yourself again .

    Alexia


  6. Congratulations on your finish. What an adventure. Hope to see you next year on the start line.

    Jo Giblin


  7. Incredible Caroline! Was lovely to see you at Glenmore, here’s my comment! 🙂


  8. […] at a wedding and splitting my head open as a result of not recovering sufficiently from the race (read more here) my HT and I visited Fumbwa village and school in Malawi to further establish our school link with […]



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