So there I was lining up beside the other relay runners in an underpass an hour or three after the ultra guys had headed off. I have to say it is a strange place to start a long distance path like the WHW, but I guess it is what it is. As usual I started off slow and grunting working my way through Mugdock park at the back of the relay pack. About five minutes into the run my phone [carried for safety purpose may I add!] went off. I missed trhe call, but the voice mail was my boss saying something about incident... offshore... call please. So there I was running on the WHW for the first time ever, phoning him back and saying, "I'm running from Milngavie....[pant] can I call you later...[pant].....". Not really the usual start to a race is it? Ten minutes in began to feel decent, by twenty minutes feeling great, but the long long downhill section near Dumgoyach was not good for my ITB, so that was walked down. Fabulous feeling though as I broached that initial crest and looked out towards Glengoyne. Somewhere after the bottom of that section, I and the two girls I was following managed to 'get lost' and somehow missed the turn onto the railtrack and ended up going east up onto the main road and along there till we met the WHW again. By this point I was feeling bl*/*dy marvellous and started getting into that lovely fast cruise mode where I was running easy, yet faster than at any point before. I've kinda decided that 10Ks are not for me. It takes me 4-5miles to get warmed up and into that fast cruise mode and by that time a 10K is almost over!
The last few miles flew by as they do when I'm running well and in the groove. Was a bit surprise by the few steep hills right at the end before Drymen, but half a mile or so out, Stan met me and ran in with me up and down those last few hills to the handover with Liz. Not my best run ever, but nevertheless one of my favourites to date.
The big surprise was at the handover where apart from Liz, there were a few other Harriers there. It's so good to see unexpected faces when you finish.
After getting home to Jo and Gregor we went and picked up Storm who had been running in her first ever X-country race for the school. She finished a very respectable 61st from 119, which is brilliant. Given by the way she was struggling later on, I think she must have run her little heart out. What a superstar! It seemed a shame to drag them all over the Tyndrum, but I was keen to see the finish, meet up with our team and see if we could see Ian and Graham finish the full event. We ended up staying till nine, keeping Graham's family company while they waited for him to finish, which we did 10mins or so before the cutoff. An absolutely brilliant performance from Graham in his first Fling and he had never ran beyond 33 miles before.
What did I learn that day then?
- If I have any Fling / WHW ambitions I need to get out there and know the route. I managed to 'get lost' on the easiest section of the easiest section and knowing the route means also there are no surprise hills to greet you - only bl*/*dy big hills you know about already.
- The Fling, and by extension the WHW are brutal affairs, but achievable. Not every finisher I saw was a young racing snake by any means. If they can, I can, not because I'm competitive BTW, but because I just want to do it.
- Only in Scotland could we have an Ultra race sponsored partly by a chip shop [even if it is the best Chip shop in the world]
- Don't answer the phone during races. I missed half my weekend as I ended up sat on a special chopper out of Aberdeen on sunday morning with 2 other guys from work to see what on earth had gone wrong.
- Lastly and most importantly - injuries do go away. at times they feel like 'I'll never run again', but mind over matter, rest and recovery they do go away and we get to run again and in many ways that feels better than anything almost.