Well I did it, it was painful and long. I made a new friend. And boy am I feeling it today!
The night before was restless, getting drop bags ready and trying to anticipate what I may need. I laid everything out on the lounge floor and futtered about. Giving myself a 'latest' bedtime of 10pm.
I was up at 4:30am gathering things up and pulling on layers to be dropped or otherwise depending on the weather. I hadn't really thought about breakfast and so ended up shovelling a weatabix down..better than nothing I decided.
Robert picked me up at 5:15 and we headed for Milngavie, arriving at 5:30, the place was already buzzing with activity. People meeting up with people, faces being put to blogs! I found the relevant vehicles for my drop bags and realised with horror that my rice pudding was still in my fridge..bother...
Oh well I don't really like it that much anyway!
The weather was promising to be perfect, drizzling a little then fizzling out. I stood with Karen and her support team Robert, Mick and Mike under the bus shelter waiting for the race briefing. Watching from the side as everyone did their pre race thing.
Before we knew it the race had begun and we were gently running through Milngavie under the West Highland Way arch and out to the all familiar territory of the "way"
It felt so good to be doing it at last. I was planning to be conservative due to the patchy training and weak knee and felt no pressure other than to finish it.
I ran with Karen through the first part of the race, and to be honest I can't remember that much about the early stages, just the determination to keep the pace easy...walk up hills as instructed by just about everyone. As we headed past Craigallian Loch we started chatting to Mary who had been runnin around our pace up until that point.
The miles ticked by as we chatted and ran...walking every incline and before we knew it we were passing through the Beech trees and heading out towards Drymen. Dumgoyne was hiding in the mist, we were pleased of that as the sun was eager to burn it off and heat us up....I don't do well running in heat! Gate after gate was opened and closed and the wee winding paths were eaten up with out any complaints.
We approached Drymen and spotted Mike who had scouted down to chum us in to the check point. I was guided to the pad where my chip was swiped..very efficiently and we continued on up through the forest to Conic. That section to the hill always seems longer than I remember...even though I tell myself that..and given that the last time I had done it with Karen...our aborted conic attempt due to snow...we had missed the turn and got all mixed up. We managed not to go wrong this time thankfully and negotiated the forest well talked our way through the forest more like.
Conic Hill arrived and we kept a pretty brisk pace walking up, Karen firmly dictating a speedy ascent, then the slippery slide down the otherside. I usually love the descent but since the trouble with my knee I dread them a little and sure enough I started to feel my knee niggle.
Mike was waiting near the bottom full of cheer and crazy stuff..I hit the carpark and first drop bag station to find my kids there with an array of banners and smiles...a lovely surprise. Also Davie Hall and Jude were faces to behold...its amazing how seeing friends can lift you.
I should have stopped for longer though..I looked round to see karen disappearing and panicked a bit...grabbed a hand full of grapes and ran...Karen however had set her own pace which I know I would never have kept up with and so Mary and i didn't attempt to catch up.
We ran on during this section I was really starting to feel the pain in my knee, I was welcoming every climb as a rest from the running and wincing with every descent. I was also starting to feel nauseous, and the nuun in my camel back was starting to get too much. I realised the muller rice was going to be missed as I was starting to crave something more savoury than the contents of my drop bags...how stupid of me to have not realised this! Mary was amazing talking and pulling me through a real low as we descended into Rowardennan, I was trying to think what i could stomach and for some bizarre reason Tea was at the forefront of my mind.
As we arrived at the base at Rowardennan a marshal directed us to the swipe pad and bag drop..the kids were there with their banners and so were Mick Mike and Robert. Mike asked.."what can I get you..do you need anything?" Tea I snapped I need tea...I knew this was an unreasonable request but within seconds there were two flasks on offer...coffee or green tea..I took the green tea and immediately felt the nausea ease, Robert was shouting at me to eat...rifling through my drop bag hand feeding me pistachios and chocolate!
After a few minutes Mary and headed on our way..easing back into the run, ready for the section to inversnaid.
This section although a shorter leap between bag drops does go on and on...then suddenly u see a building through the trees and realise you're there. I was trying to ignore the pain in my knee but couldn't help but sit down on the floor and take the weight off at inversnaid...cursing the lack of savoury items in my drop bag Mary shared her crushed up ready salted crisps with me..they really helped and definitely something I would pack for future ultras (wait a minute did I just say that?!!)
I tipped out the NUUN from my camel back and Mary got the marshal to put water in it... I just couldn't stomach any more! I decided that it was time to take a couple of Ibuprofen tablets to dull the pain in my knee..I wouldn't usually do this but I just had to do this race.
We hit the Lochside which I must say I quite enjoyed. The scramble makes for a real adventure feel. I recall that by this time the sun was breaking through a little but still not enough to cause too much concern, I have walked/run this section in real heat in the past and it can be almost tropical against the rock.
I can't say I found the treck to Bein Glas easy. I was suffering, my knee was still sore and I felt like I was running on empty. But I was still going and I was determined NOT to stop! As I sit here typing this Im trying to remember where Marco passed me...I really cant but i do remember how fresh he was looking.
As we approached I could see the drovers through the trees to the left, What a welcome sight that was. Another pit stop.
I was craving something savoury and almost hallucinating sausage rolls or soup, but I knew I had nothing of the sort in my drop bag. i slumped down and shared my pistachios with Mary, she had spotted one of her friends who was having a Low so she went to chat with him. There was a lady in front of me giving support to another runner who promptly headed on her way.. she had a flask of coffee so I asked for a wee sip...hot n strong and welcome..so thank you that Lady! It was a tummy settler!
With less than a half marathon to go I knew that I was going to make it...even if I had to resort to walking. the pills had dulled the pain in my knee but I was not feeling strong. We started to set targets...a tip that Marys husband had given her..."even if you get really tired..run/walk...set targets and run to them" we did that biting away small chunk by small chunk. run to that cattle trough..run to that lamp post....run to that gate...walk for two mins. We came across the cow barricade and edged our way past them...they didn't bother with us as we opted for the cow sh*t slurry trench rather than barge right through the middle. There were calves and I wondered how the runners with dogs had negotiated this bit?
The killer hills through the forest were killers...I couldn't remember how many there were from the training runs but I knew they went on a bit. I knew we dropped down to the road just not how soon. At this point my garmin gave up too... seems I wasn't fast enough for it. It died at 47.5miles! Bother.
Well I really did limp home those last few miles. run a bit walk a bit.past the wigwams where we met a friend of Marys who gave us a good prep talk.
As we approached Tyndrum I could see the green welly 800m sign on the road and told Mary excitedly. Running past some backpackers as we approached the end of the community forest path I went over on my ankle..the air was blue and I was done..I felt I was going to have to sit there until someone brought me some wheels..I couldn't believe it...THIS CLOSE!!! Of course it was a total over reaction and Mary grabbed me firmly under the arm and said..."NO! You're going to walk on it a bit then in a minute we'll run and you'll see it will be fine!" and do you know what..it was.
We were met by her husband Hugh who had overtaken us and finished in an amazing 9:40 he chummed us along to the end...taking my camel back for me (could you carry my bag pleeeese)...yes I was that pathetic! As we came into the field the piper piped us in and the finish was in sight..Flags lined the path and we crossed the line. It was emotional..I was soooooooooo glad to have finished. The king of blogland John kynaston was there ready to remove the chip..I'm glad he was cause I was in no state to do it. I found a seat n sat down for a long time.
I could go on to write about the time since them...the legs the trying to undo my shoelaces in the tea room toilets....the inability to eat..until 4am this morning when I just HAD to have supa noodles. But I wont. What I will do is say a huge well done to everyone who did the fling yesterday. Specially Karen who did it in 11:52 and Debbie and Sharon who did it in 9:49 and 9:41 the three of them securing the team prize for Garscube. Marco who did an awesome time of 8:23...and was 3rd man. you're all amazing!
it was a brilliantly organised race and the Marshall's were fantastic.
I'll post some pics when I get them! Oh and I nearly forgot..my time was 12:41 !!
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