Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Best Laid plans

Don't always come to fruition.

I'm not sure i could've been more ready for this race, which makes this blog that bit more difficult to write i guess. My training had been spot on, i'd had no issues in the 2 times i'd ran the Devil course nor when i did my double run starting at Balamaha.I had a superb Crew.  You have back up plans for certain things but injuries are something we can do nothing about.

The day started trying to test us. Ian had left me with breakfast in bed and went off to pick up a van then headed to Run&Become to pick up goodybags & Merchandise. He hadn't anticipated the roads around R&B being closed to a bomb scare though! At least he'd have had a good story to tell everyone just why they didn't get their goody bags mind you. Drama over he got van packed,then called me to say "dont panic but there is no room in van for our stuff, i'll head home and have a think about what to do"

Never start a conversation with Dont panic folks, you know it's only going to be bad news. What did i do? I burst into tears after putting phone down and looked around the living room at the sheer amount of stuff we had to get to Milngavie. I recalled the car being full to bursting last yr. Then i went through to bedroom and sat on bed with a million thoughts flying through my head. Another phone call from Ian followed telling me he had solution and nt to worry. He got home to tell me solution.We'd drive to Milngavie in our car unload car then Ian would drive back to Edinburgh then back to Milngavie again. Jeez. Poor Ian, it worried me the sheer amount of driving he'd have to do in the lead up to a crazy weekend of sleeplessness.

Traffic was atrocious in Edinburgh due to flooding, Royal Highland Show and general rush hour stuff. nightmare. Ian called & told me i should go have dinner without him as he wasnt sure what time he'd get back. My son had arrived by then so we headed down to Burnbrae for food. Ian managed to make it back by 8ish and i'd ordered ahead but it meant he had to eat quickly then  dash straight off to regristration and get van unpacked pronto.

Rest of crew arrived just before Ian headed off & Ian went off happy to hand me over and concentrate on race.Everything was then taken back down to Nicks car to repack, goodness knows what anyone in reception though about enormous amount of stuff going back and forth, it mustve been like an odd version of the generation game, with no cuddly toys.

Managed to grab a few hrs sleep thankfully and we arrived at Milngavie station in plenty time for briefing and catching up eith few folks. THe atmosphere was electric as always and you could almost feel the excitement & anticipation in the air. Before we knew it we we lined up & ready to roll. 95miles lay ahead, i had visualised running every single section. I was ready.

Weather reports were horrendous but hey ho, we deal with what we have to. I started off with fairly lightweight waterproof and a vest as it was quite warm. Within abut 2 miles i was down to vest as i was so warm, ony problem was the midgies were ut in force, they love this weather and i felt they were really going for me this yr. By time we reached Beech tree the rain started,it was no shower, it was torrential. THe chatting seemed to grind to a halt from fellow runners and everyone just concentrated on moving forward and getting through the endless gates on that section. I was drenched through and i suddenly remembered i'd told my crew to head straight to Balmaha and get some sleep! oops. Wasn't about to call them andpanic them so i just got head down and got on wth it, only water after all and it wasnt cold.

Luckily my crew are more sensible than me and after seeing the conditions decided to head to Drymen anyway, i was suprised to see them & delighted they'd brought me a more heavyweight jacket and and dry hat worrying that it wouldet colder on climb up Conic. Off i went on next section feeling pretty good. Headtorch stayed on for at least a good half hour longer than last yr. Turned it off on approach to Conic where i caught up with Mark Keddie. We had good chat as we headed up the hill talking abut our ankles, Mark had similar problems during GEDM as i did last yr. Conic  more like gorge walking with the river just pouring down, but we made godo progress and i let Mark head down hill ahead of me taking it VERY easy for 2 reasons. 1.-it was like a mudbath and superslippy and 2. i was preserving ankles and quads for fire road much later on.

Nick was by the gate leading into forest and asked me what i needed, tea and muller rice & change shoes  were my only requests and he headed off back down hill. I came off hill to see Ian, gave him quick kiss (he later told me i nearly knocked him out with my cap lol) and headed of to crew. Great getting so many shout outs here from other crews, love it.
 I sat down and my crew got to work drying me and changing top/jacket/shoes and sending me on my way.

I popped in to say a quick hello ot Lucy in Oak Tree and headed back out with spring in my step feeling great. I actually felt as good leaving there as i did on my double run day. Happy and fresh and raring to go. I enjoyed to run to Rowardennan, i recalled how bad i'd felt during fling and i was relishing it. Passed Lex Melling on this section and we had quick hello and hug and on i went. I got to Rowardennan to although i insisted my sealskins were keeping my feet dry Susan insisted on changing them. Actually it was great call, my feet felt great with clean dry pair on. Cup tea and muller rice again and i headed off again feeling pretty good but also a bit sad that i'd not see my crew for a very long time.  Met Antonias fiance here who said she was just ahead, i was bit surprised but told him i'd not be trying to catch her.

I really like this section, i know most folk hate it but i've always embraced it.The uppy downy hills are enjoyable & i ran walked few of them as i had in training but soon decided to just walk the steeper ones again preserving self for later.  But my enthusasm soom faded the closer i got to Inversnaid, the rocks were super slippy and the rivers swollen so that crossing was really a tad scary.I felt everytime i had to jump from rock or climb up or down one then my ankles were getting scarily sore. Felt sick to my stomach, were were barely into the race, please god dnt let this happen. Got into Inversnaid and was delighted to see Karen McK and her sis (& dog) got big hug and headed to get drop bag. Few folk were sitting in torrential rain eating but i had no desire to get colder & wetter so i took it with me thanking the Marshalls. Ate all my mullerrice and drank some lucozade and headed on enjoying the non rock climbing for a wee while at least and hoping my ankles would loosen off.

Again the stupid rocks and stupid climbs were sore, the times i had to jump down and even going down the steps at RobRoys cave my bones felt like the were crushing every step down. I was getting despondant. This was not part of the plan. I could maybe cope with it late on in race, but not this early on. Finally the bone crushing rocks were left behind and i was so relieved. Relief really didnt last long though as i soon found running on flats was now starting to hurt. Robert Kinnard passed me here and we had bit of chat, was nice to see a friendly face when i felt so downbeat.

Only relief was uphills, not often we're desperate for hills but i found myself marching up Darios hill, stopping and telling him "you're having a fuckin laugh surely " Downhills were becoming ever more painful. I concentrated on getting to Beinglas, i thought about last yr and knowing id gone through a bit of down around here i just told myself it was the same.

But i knew it wasnt. Dina & Other marshall were superb. My dropbag had gone ammiss but there was a food mountain from previous drop bags so i had more Muller rice and a drink and sat there for wee while, my face mustve told a thousand stories as Dina & other Marshall were asking if i was ok, did i need anything etc, they were superb. They thought that the weather was getting to me and offered me chance to sit in car with heaters on but i declined,thanking them. Weather schmeather. Throw locusts at me, i'll deal with it. . I txt my crew as planned to let them know i was leaving Beinglas and told them i needed tea & drugs, and i let them know i was struggling.

Yes it wasnt great getting constanlty rained on when i felt miserable anyway but it wasnt a factor in my head. I left everyone enjoying the shelter on Canopy and headed off and soon caught up with guy ahead who asked me if there were much more hills. lol.

I ran walked where i could and found downhills worse again and then got worse & worse over the runable stuff.Soon saw a runner coming towards and soon realised it was Marco, stopped for quick chat and he told me all right things that you tell Ultra runners and off i went again
 Ian from Dumfries caught me here and we stayed together for a while, me pulling ahead every so often and him catching me on the flat sections. Going through to tunnel i stupidly turned to talk to him and stood up nearly knocking myself out in process. I was seeing stars i swear. Ian checked i was ok and i told him maybe it would take mind of my stupid ankles. It didnt

We headde up hill towards cow poo corner and i lost Ian here but didnt have strength to push on, i was throwing myself int rivers to try and aleviate pain and numb it, it helped for few minutes i guess. JUst past Poo corner i saw Nick and he gave me big hug. I was a bit tearful here knowing it was a crucial time. Stephen soon appeared to looking worried. They went back on ahead to Ben Fogle, i arrived and Susan gave me hugs, drugs and tea. We chatted about what to do, could i go on? Could i do anothet 45 miles in this pain wth the option of it getting worse and ending up in hospital again.

I really didn't want to make that decision. This was not part of the plan. My visualisation had me going up that hill happy with a cup of tea, waving goodbye to crew knowing i'd see them again soon.

The reality was that i left there with the decision hanging heavy & knowing the next 3 miles were crucial. There were as many downhills as ups so it would make the decision for me. Hugs from Susan & Stephen felt ever more important and i'm a bit teary even typing this;

Nick walked up hill to picnic table with me,hugged me and told me i was fabulous. I didnt feel it. Tim D passed me here and he was making good progress. I soon realised that i was going slower trying to run downhill than i was walking it. So i walked them, and they still hurt a lot. I got to that last bit of downhill where you end up in tiver and have to climb out steep bit rock. I couldnt get out river, i didnt have strength in my ankles to grip onto rock and i stodd there thinking id be there til someone came along and pulled me out. Somehow i managed it though and decision was probably made there & then.

As i made my way gingelry down the hill i suddenly saw Ian come up hill to meet me. My crew had alerted him to my issues and he wanted to check on me. I cried when i saw him. We had a chat about what was sensible and he told me it was totally my call. I knew that anyway and iknew it was game over. We got to bttom of hill and Nick appeared again, we told him i was pulling out knowing i couldnt hobble another 45 miles and he looked a bit relieved. Ian had parked in layby and was heading up to FW so we said our goodbyes and i headed across road with Nick. Stephen ran out to meet us and we walked in towards Auchtertyre with heavy hearts. Stephen ran on ahead to alert Susan and by time i arrived i was shaking with cold and soaked through, even though i'd changed gloves hat and buff at Ben Fogle. I knew then i'd made right decision.

Susan had cupasoup ready for me and whisked me off to toilets where i was stripped down and redressed in warm dry clothes.  Getting into the car afterwards i felt relieved rather than sad.

We headed up road went to cottage before heading along road to see winner Terry Conway storm home as if he was running a 5k. Amazing! next up was Paul Giblin who was screaming & wooping from the corner, loved it.

Crew wer tired & hungry so we headed off to get chinese, we popped back to drop one off for Ian & Doctor Andrew Murray asked to see my ankles. After fiddling with feet and examining them i was taken inside to show t 2 of his colleagues. Finally after a whole year, ending up in Hospital and having several diagnosis thrown around i was told i had Dorsiflexor Tendonopathy.He has also suffered from it and look at what he does, there is hope.  So finally i have something to work on..I was told to go home and ice and elevate, then strap them up so i did.

Back at cottage the crew started dropping like flies and went off to bed. I was sittng by window txting Ian when a runner went past and wide awake. My head & bodyclock were still in racemode big time. I got call from Jules to say Andy was at braveheart so i went outside to high five him on hisay past. Once back inside i decided to head back along to Leisure Centre, i'm so glad i did. Got to see quite a few finishers and crew and Ian of course.Andy had a funny turn so i was glad to be there to look after him as Sean was being kept busy with few casualties around by then. Once it got past the  time i'd got in previous yr (2/3am) my body eventually said sleep so Norman kindly gave me lift back and i finally put the WHWrace 2012 to bed.


  1. Even though I knew the outcome of the story I so wanted it to be different for you xx

  2. This year was tough - a lot of folk got soaked, cold and their bodies couldn't keep warm, Andy being one of them. Sorry you had a rough time, but get the ankles sorted and you'll be back stronger than ever. It was fab seeing you at the finish Xx

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  4. "Getting into the car afterwards i felt relieved rather than sad"
    I think this says it all - you clearly made the right decision. A tough one none the less, but the correct one. It must a be such a relief to get a diagnosis; the WHW will still be there for you when you're back on your feet.
    See you soon x

  5. It was a pleasure as ever to see you Sandra. So sad for you when I heard you'd had to pull out, but get those ankles fixed and we'll see you finishing strongly again soon x

  6. You definitely made the right decision! It's only a race, which will always be there. Bounce back soon, doll :-) xx

  7. If hugs fix ankles you'll soon be storming the WHW again. Like you say, look at Andrew Murray and look at your awesome courage and spirit. :-)

  8. Sometimes it IS better to stop than to battle through. Certainly in your case it was. Well done for taking that decision! And for feeling good about it. And all the best with getting it sorted for next year!

  9. Hi Sandra, it doesn't sound like you had any choice at all about withdrawing so you shouldn't have any regrets. I hope having a diagnosis helps you to perhaps find a way of preventing it in future. Could it be as simple a changing your shoe lacing? Certainly any pressure over the top of the foot can rub the tendons up something rotten sometimes.

  10. Very frustrating to get stopped by something you can't (yet!) control. I would take a bit of time finding out exactly what's going on so you can work out what the best strategy is. One problem I find is that nothing can represent being on your feet for 20+ hours (not even back-to-back runs I think) without actually doing it, so the feedback only comes once a year. When you think you've cracked the problem, maybe you have to get out for another long run well before the WHW. It was good to catch up with you again - see you next year!

  11. Damn feet love em and loate em in equal measure sometimes. You'll be back, fixed and stronger and more determined than ever! x



This could be a long blog, but 100 miles is a long way. I've always had a pull to this race for various reasons. I've heard many g...