To counteract the last blog title!
Devil of the highlands race. I probably wouldn't have bothered entering had John not taken the race over but I did as soon as he announced it. To be perfectly honest I didn't have my race head on the same as I have for all the races I've done & PB'd at year. And I thought, not unreasonably IMO that it would be an easy PB. Now when I say easy, I know these things never are. It's 42 miles of tough terrain that are damn hard on the feet and legs.
Still, as much as I didn't have *race head* on I was still excited about it. I wanted to go out and enjoy it, despite the weather predictions which were anticipating apocalyptic weather. Ian and I had last ran the route in March and had the most horrendous weather imaginable. Couldn't be any worse than I that so it was game on, weather schmeather.
Ian picked me up straight from work and off we went to Airport to pick up Giacomo, turns out you don't pronounce it jeeeahkomo but as Jackamo! everyday a school day and all that. And off we went to Fort William, the weather was sunny when leaving Edinburgh and got steadily worse the further North we got. Ah well, it was predicted.
We quickly dumped our cases in room and headed down for dinner, sharing a nice bottle of red then getting to bed early in preparation for a 2.50am alarm call. We both slept well which is always a bonus night before a race. I was asked by John to be in charge of the bus to check off names and to make sure we left on time (4am sharp) so we got to station about 4.45 but no bus. He did arrive soon enough and I checked everyone on, at 4am I jumped out to check if anyone else was coming and indeed we had someone sprinting along road who got on just in time.
It was lovely drive down, seeing the light change the landscape.
Arrived at Tyndrum to find lots of excited folk and lots of friends handing out hugs. It didn't feel like 5am in morning. Collected number, did drop bag stuff then John did his briefing. He said there might be weather. Quick kiss to Ian to wish him luck and we were off. Couple of miles in I caught up with Stuart Chalmers and ran all way to Bridge of Orchy with him. time passes so quickly when you're chatting away, we didn't notice the miles go by. I know I delighted him with my singing and that probably spurred him onto his PB ;)
He shot up the hill, cant think why. I soon caught up with Ian who was chatting to David Greig up and over JBH. Coming down into Inveronan I started feeling twinges in front of my ankle. Slight panic thinking it was stupid ankle injury coming back but I ploughed on towards Rannoch moor anyway in hot pursuit of Ian. By time I was on Rannoch ankle was ok, mile or so later the ball of my left foot started hurting. I ignored it. This was the same problem had back at start of year. Every time I upped my mileage or tried long runs I got same problem. The week before Donnies training camp in Spain in March I was ready to pull out thinking I couldn't run at all. It slowed me down a bit but not hugely, I was still making good progress and on target for 3 hrs at Glencoe which was all part of plan. Unfortunately it was also hurting more the minute. abut mile and half out of glencoe I started to walk to see if it would help, it didn't. It just meant I was hobbling. So I took off running again, getting passed by few folk whom I'd passed earlier. I kept swapping places with Alan Doig & Col Barber nearly all way over Rannoch. I thought my race was over and decided to just pull out at Glencoe.
Of course I get into *that* Checkpoint to be first of met by Sharon Law, Then Lucy C,then Debs M-C. Oh and of course Paul G. How can I pull out at a checkpoint manned by the top Ultra runners in Scotland/UK? I got a hug off Paul took 2 paracetamol and zipped up my man suit. Whether it was a placebo effect or I just wanted to get away from them so they didn't see me hobble I motored it out of there. Lorna & Noanie were at road crossing and I told them of my woes, they told me Ian was just ahead and I could go catch him. So off I went, not feeling so confident. Caught up with Mel Sinclair on road to Kingshouse , she'd be having breathing issues and had nearly pulled out too. So on we went trying to man up. I could see Ian's red t-shirt in distance and kept focusing on that instead of the pain I was feeling. I'd gone ahead of Mel when she was walking a bit at Kingshouse to eat something but she caught me with about a mile to go till bottom of Devils staircase. I was hobbling a bit and in fair bit of pain and she gave me stronger painkiller to see if it would help. tbh by that point I had decided I was quitting. Too much pain to do another 21 miles over highest point of course.
I hobbled towards Altnafaed to be met with shouts of encouragement from Ruth Howie. I told her I was pulling out and bless her she tried to persuade me otherwise. When she realised my mind was made up she put me in her car and gave me jacket to keep warm. Then she ran me to Fort William even though she was heading to Kinlochleven to support Angela. What a star.
I called John & Lorna to let them know I was out and safely rescued and headed up to hotel for a bath.
The it was off to finish line to cheer everyone in. I actually felt ok about my decision up until about Sunday night/Monday morning. 2 things. I had DOMS like I'd ran the whole damn thing, and my foot felt like it was improving. Does that mean I didn't just tough it out? I don't know.
I walked about 8miles altogether on Monday and ball of foot was still sore. I was running by Tuesday & it was still tender but better. I now wonder if it's down to lack of trail running since WHWrace. Working where I am now (Heriot Watt)it's 8 miles exactly from house, quickest route is along canal. Maybe my feet have got less tough? I wasn't prepared to go through another couple months trying to fix it like I did January/Feb. so maybe I did do right thing. Now that I'm seeing all the pics & blogs it does make it hurt bit more. Hey ho, I need to slap a smile back on and get on with things.
It goes to show that you just never know how a race will go, I've been very lucky this year and I need to focus on the positives. In meant time I guess we have a wedding to plan, maybe I'll go all bridezilla with all this time on my hands ;)
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