Tuesday, 5 April 2011

It's all in the head

I cant remember the last weekend i had that wasn't totally revolved around running, and this weekend was no different.

After busy week at work we decided to head out for drinks, i quickly nipped home and got changed and met rest of staff at 5, I'd already said I'd only be staying til 7 as i still had to finish packing and wanted to be nice & fresh for weekend. I left my workmates as planned and met Ian who was also on work drinks night, notice i did my side of bargain. We ended up leaving his night out around 10 (i think!) got Chinese on way home which i didn't eat as i fell asleep. Great prep for my WHW training next day.

Alarm went off bright & early and when i got up to make tea i noticed rice from previous night, hmm that looks good. My tum was rumbling a bit so i decided to eat it. Ian was horrified and said i'd be ill. Don't be daft i said, I've done that plenty times before. Finished packing and off we went stopping off in at supermarket for supplies and a *proper* breakfast. I met Susan in Glasgow at 11am and off we headed for Beinglas Farm.

I felt a bit dodgy as we drove up the country roads. I started to feel a bit queasy and by time we hit loch lomond i knew i was going to be sick. Cue Susan pulling over and me emptying my stomach in layby. Back in car and half hour later i was out again retching until nothing but bile was coming out, my throat was really hurting at this point as were my stomach muscles. My head started to hurt too, not good.

We arrived at Beinglas around 1pm and i ran to toilets once again to be sick. oh joy. Felt lightheaded too probably from all the banding over and emptying stomach! We got keys to our *wigwam* not entirely sure why it's called that. It's a hut, a pointy hut. I'm 5ft nothing and still banged my head twice on bloody door. We assumed there would be electricity and had duly brought our chargers along for phones & garmins. We were sorely disappointed. It was a hut with 2 hard mattresses, a dim light and a heater which was, well fuckin rubbish quite frankly. Blowing on my hands produced more heat.
Look at it, it's like a friggin dolls house.

Anyway, enough of that. We had a run to do, to Tyndrum & back. I can honestly say I've never felt less like running in my entire life. I had a completely empty stomach and no energy whats over. I darent eat anything in case of it reappearing and causing me more stomach/throat pains/dehydration . I didn't really mention this to Susan as i knew she was nervous about this run and has enough problems dealing with that without worrying about me.

I let Susan set pace for most of time and every mile or so i harboured thoughts turning back and curling up in ball on the stupid hard mattress in the stupid pointy hut and going to sleep. Susan had noticed i hadn't eaten or drunk anything after about 9 miles and was bit worried so i sipped on some energy drink praying it would stay down. It did. It was quite an enlightening run for Susan as she'd only been on that particular route twice, once when i supported her on last leg fling and once last yr when she supported Jon. This time she could take in her surroundings and familiarise herself properly with it.

When we got through the gate at Tyndrum and into the wooded area just ahead of finish i fell, tripped over a wee twig and bashed my knee. Typical that I'd made it almost to turnaround point then fell!

Least it took my mind of throwing up. We got to by the way hostel and stopped there as that is where Fling finishes now.We stopped for for 6mins. 6mins weren't planned it was just how long it took and Ian had told me to time it and leave my garmin on, so i did. I managed a nutrigrain bar here and drank about half my energy drink as well as taking few sips of Susan's coke. Off we went for return leg.

I started to feel much better within about 10mins. Having some food in my stomach albeit a teeny bit was making for a much nicer return leg! We had a wee rain shower which quickly passed over and as we turned the corner we were greeted with a stunning rainbow.

We stopped off Strathfillan farm to pick up more juice then headed off. The miles were ticking by fast this time, probably because i felt much better, in fact the further we got the better i felt.As we approached a hill Marco came bounding down with big smile on his face, we stopped for quick chat and said we'd see his later. About 20mins later as we went through forest Thomas (Tam)came bounding down past us looking very unlike someone who'd stormed a 100k just 6days earlier!

Susan started to get doubts at this stage, doubts about fling, doubts about her ever even starting it. She felt tired and was already talking about not being able to run the next day. I told her she'd be fine after a nights sleep and to stop worrying. I flew the last few miles and felt like i could've ran on & on but i didn't, obv. We got to our pointy hut and went straight down for a shower to get changed for party of year back up in Tyndrum. oh my actual god. It was baltic. There was a radiator but it wasn't turned on.We had optimistically taken our chargers & a hairdryer thinking there would be plugs. You guessed it, we were disappointed yet again.

The water eventually got hot but the tiles were ice cold on the feet, i didnt want to turn shower off but reluctantly did. Ran out to get clothes where I'd left them and bolted back into shower room where at least the floor was warm , wet but warm! There was a hairdryer on wall, which of course you had to pay for. Ok, so I'm not used to slumming it, and wont be doing it again anytime soon, in fact, never.

We somehow managed to scrub up quite well.

Party was great, Dave & Lee looked deliriously happy and everyone was having a ball.The Ceilidh band was superb and kept dancefloor busy all night.

It was made even more superb by the tremendous spread they put on, none of you're basic buffet here folks, there was an array of curries to put a local takeaways to shame. Brilliant.With my stomach being almost empty of food for around 36hrs by this point i was one of first in queue and even went back for more(but struggled to eat 2nd plate)

We left around 11.15 when party was still in full swing as Susan was driving back and we planned to get up early for next day's running. After a pretty restless night and waking up every couple hours then realising with horror i was sleeping in a hut i gave in around 6.30 and looked at my phone sadly which was still showing no signal. We were up and running by 7.45 and this time i had a muller rice before setting off. Legs were absolutely fine, and although Susan was bit worried, hers were too. This section is a bit mental with all the rock scrambling etc and it was another section Susan couldn't recall much off. I do love this section as you get amazing views and it's on "Darios' hill" I remember saying to few folk last yr to remember and look back and say goodbye to Loch Lomond here and stop & appreciate it for a minute.

We got to Inversnaid and had a 4 min break this time. Susan was starting to slip into negativity again and doubted whether she'd be running by last few miles. I assured her she would.

I told her to think of that section as a *rest* time for her legs. There's few hills to speak off and lots of obstacles to get over/round/under etc and for me personally i think it gives the legs a wee rest from running. It's a mental thing perhaps but it works for me. This again is where Susan struggles big time. In harsh reality she should be getting same times as me, we have comparable 1/2 and Marathon times , her 5k is much faster and she beat me at D33 other week too. But she thinks she cant. I've seen Susan at her lowest point running (last leg fling 2yrs ago) and she also struggled mentally during S2S Ultra.

I can tell her til the cows come home that she's a great runner, that she can do it, she can enjoy it. etc etc. But i cant make her believe it. That's got to come from her. Susan is one of strongest people i know, who's had everything chucked at her these past few yrs but picks herself up and just gets on with it.We're very alike in that respect i guess that's why we get on so well. I truly wish she could see just how strong a runner she is as well.

Ultra running is a mental sport in many capacities and i personally believe that it's up to 70% mental 30% Training. I'm not saying you can get by on no training, far from it. I've beaten many people in Ultras who can kick my arse big time in short races who seem to struggle with the distance thing. So is it all the the head?

So was there a lesson to be learned here? Yes & no. No, dont eat cold chinese that's been sitting out all night. Yes i can run through that feeling of sickness, no energy and dehydrated and still get to my destination.

This weekend i'm going to Old Trafford. Not running. Cant wait.


  1. Susan needs a good kick up the arse and start to believe in herself. She knows that you wouldn't lie to her. 70% mental as you say.

  2. Great blog and looking at the pics I'd never of known how sick you were. Good thing it was a curry buffet at the party and not a Chinese one !



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