Wednesday, 5 September 2012

My first ever race win

Not a title i ever expected to have on any of my blogs.

After hearing everyone rave about how good last years Glenmore24 was i was really looking forward to doing it.

Having never done a 12hr race before I'd no real idea what to expect of myself. I think closest i could compare it to race wise Highland Fling which took me just over 11hrs. But this was different kettle of fish, it was 4miles loop of Glenmore Forest Park, only looped race I'd previously done was Perth 50k which meant 21 loops of Inch Park. Again completely different as that was totally flat.

I read Fionna Rennie's blog to try and get a feel for the terrain and had look at pics to see what was in store. So that was my total prep i guess.

Had a chat with Ian about it and he said i should try and aim for 100k, or 62miles if you like. He said he'd done that during 24hr race at Perth, i think he was laying down the gauntlet saying that but ever so subtly So that was the target. Ambitious? Who knows. Every since the WHWrace I've been conscious of every twinge in my ankles. Having survived the Clyde Stride with no issues i was hoping for more of the same.

We weren't best prepped to be honest and few days before still hadn't decided if we were driving up in morning, staying over night before or what. That is until i got a txt from the Lovely Louise demanding we go stay with her and offering her support services as well. Well how could we possibly refuse? As soon as Ian got home from work we headed up North and around 4 hours later arrived in middle of nowhere in the land of the Pixies to be be greeted by the ever smiley Lou.

My goodness we were spoiled rotten from minute we stepped through her enchanted cottage. We were quickly ensconced in her squashy sofa in front of the roaring log fire with drinks in our hands. We got a sumptuous dinner of Smoked Salmon then Venison stew.  Dinner of champions Lou joked.

Few more drinks after dinner and off we went to bed where i had the best sleep ever. Not sure if it was exhaustion from the long day, the wine or the fresh country air and complete silence but boy did i feel well rested when i got up in morning.

Breakfast of bacon sandwiches and a pot& half of tea and i was more than ready. Oh and fruit pavlova, how could i forget?Louise had had made a HUGE pavlova the night before but no way could we manage to eat anything else so we guiltily had a bit in morning. Breakfast of champions Louise Joked.

We headed down the road to Glenmore Forest park around 11am, and after picking up my number i went round catching up with people and getting lots of hugs. There was a little tented village and Ian said he'd set up next to JohnK so i knew where to find him when i came round the loops.

My one and only plan was to try to get 100k, other than that i planned to just run. Soon enough we were all lined up and off we went. Round the campsite and up the wee hill, which of course we all ran, i wondered if we'd run that again or if it was the usual "I'll worry about my legs later"

I ran pretty much all the way of that first loop i think. I was surprised to find how hilly it was though. ||For some reason I'd just thought it was going to be a bit undulating. hmmm. Anyway, i got round that first loops in around 35mins and got told off by Ian. He looked a bit worried and said I'd gone off too fast. I said I'd slow down and next lap i think i was about 37mins, again he said it was bit too fast.

I knew I'd slow down myself so i wasn't too worried. I deliberately not worn a garmin as its done me a lot of good last few races and taken the pressure off the constant checking, maybe it would even stop me falling over ;) By the third lap i was settling into a nice steady pace. I perversely liked the long hill that led to/from the water station at halfway and i always stopped to get a drink here and always ran up hill after, whether it was the nuunn drink s giving me a wee boost or fact that it was halfways point i don't know, but i always felt pretty good getting to there, even if it was bit of slog to get there.

Think it was 4th Lap that JohnK and i ran most of together, this is the lap currently posted in his blog, thankfully i am dubbed out in favour of music as we we chatted the entire way about all sorts, including football which I'm sure you'd all have found riveting! I was ditched by John and picked up Louise to run next lap with me. She was like an excited bunny and chatted all way round which made those two laps just fly by. By this point i was aware i was in lead, what a strange sensation that was. I say strange cause I'm not entirely sure  liked it. It added pressure which i couldve done without. Ian was updating me on every lap about how far ahead i was. Saying that i didn't change anything in what i normally do. I didn't stop at base camp,i never stop at checkpoints.  i told Ian & Lou what i wanted and they'd meet me at bottom of first hill and walk up with me while i took what i needed then i ran off. Not that i take much, i was alternating between irn bru and energy drinks. My lap 6 i asked for half a banana, Ian nearly fell over lol

So after that i had half a banana every lap, i knew it was keeping Ian happy to see me eating as i never usually do during Ultras (except whwrace) Round and round i went, at some points getting almost blown over and then coming into deeper forest and feeling proper stillness. On my 12th lap i knew light was beginning to fade, Bill was at the midpoint drinks station telling people to remember head torches for next lap which id planned on anyway. Louise was with me on this lap and she ran on ahead to get head torch, buff and tshirt to change into as it had got bit chillier since sun faded.

Headtorch on and i set off on my own as the light was fading. It was truly beautiful. I turned headtorch on soon as i was up first hill as first mile is quite rocky and i wasn't taking any chances having managed to get round thus far without any trips or falls! Problem with the light is that every flying beastie for miles made a beeline for me, god knows how many i swallowed, twice i stopped to cough my guts up

 I got to halfway point and not only was it properly dark by then i was very glad of the drink to wash down the beasties, this was around 9pm and signified 50miles point for me which gave me another wee boost.

Ian joined me on next loop at 52miles and i said i was glad i only had 2 more loops to go, He said i could easily do 3 in the time i had. This played with my head a bit as I'd only planned on 2, and i wasn't sure if head was in right place for another after convincing myself i only had 2! Louise came on next loop with me and which would take me to 60miles and i said to her this would be my last. If i got in after 11pm then i would be  put on the "the wee loop" which was a 325metre loop around the campsite which went up the first hill then down other side then back round again.

So i went on bit of a go slow, even though i knew i had 9min lead at that point and couldve kept it i really didnt want to go round again. At halfway point we met Antonia who had been pootling round backwards for most of day supporting folk, was great to see her smiley wee face so often.. She had came round on her own and got bit freaked out by the pitch darkness so joined me and Lou back to base camp. After the big long hill there was a big downhill, the penultimate time i ran it my thighs had started aching so I'd taken foot of pedal so to speak, whereas this time i stopped and walked bits. Reckless perhaps but i didnt want to get in before 11 and i my thighs hurt and i knew i had another hour of running to go anyway. 60miles. done. Ian told me i needed to d at least 10 loops to get my 100k, 10? fuck, 10!

We got back to basecamp at 11.05, as i shouted my number to Ada i said "small loop?" she said no! eh? what? nooooo. But it was misunderstanding and i was indeed sent that way. Wow that loop was small. before too long there i was round again, yikes this would be a long 55mins. On the other hand it was just superb. Every few minutes I'd have people screaming out my name, it was brilliant. I gt my head down and just dug in. I was two and half loops in when Ian told me 2nd lady was in.

Omg panic. This really was beginning to get stressful. I had worked hard all day,i wasn't going to lose it now. I put my head down and just got on with it, i overtook Carolyn at one point and she caught me back up again. I knew i was still 2 &bit laps ahead but it was still stressing me right out. Every time i passed everyone they were screaming and shouting telling me to tuck in, to dig in, keep my head down
 My god, how on earth people cope with leading races all time i have no idea. It kinda took my enjoyment away the longer it went on.

After about 40mins Carolyn and me were going up hill together and started chatting. Turns out she reads my blog "hello, waves" and follows me on twitter!  its a mighty small world. We agreed were both done in and knowing we were 1st and 2nd and that 3rd was nowhere nr us we decided to ease off a bit. So instead of hurtling ourselves down the hill we jogged down, after 11.5hours of racing hard i think we deserved bit of break.

We got bit of stick once we got past everyone in camp site to get going again so did, and we ran last few laps together. We just got to bottom of hill when everyone started counting down so we sprinted up hill together and got to top as hooter went off to signify end of race. We walked down hill and through a wall of people clapping and i was really quite overwhelmed,  had no idea how many miles I'd finally clocked up but i knew I'd done enough. I won, i only went and bloody won.

  <<<<<<< my wonderful team

thank you so much Ian & Louise, you really were quite superb and kept my spirits up for 12whole hours.

Here is profile of big loop taken from Ians Garmin. So i went up that damn hill 15times.
I bow down at the feet of the 24hr guys.
I've borrowed JK's pic of all those hills (he did one more lap than me and did over 65miles,coming 2nd overall) wouldve been  interesting to see the profile of the last wee loop, i ended up going round it 17 times in the end! Total mileage was 63.89 miles.
1st Lady, 3rd Overall results

Thanks to Mike & Bill for a superb, beautiful race.


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