Report of our training run on the whw….
I woke just before 7am and felt really excited! It was crazy really as the wind was blowing, the forecast was for lots of rain and the ground would be very muddy and wet. Yet I woke and was excited about the prospect of the day ahead. I’m not sure what this says about me!! A number of people I spoke to about doing this run, including some of my family, think I’m mad and they couldn’t think of anything worse. But these training runs on the route is what makes this race so special to me. If I was going out for over 6hours on my own it would be a lot harder but I was looking forward to chatting with Neal in the car on the way over and then spending the day with fellow runners on a great route like the whw.
Neal arrived at 8.15am. We put bags in the van for Katrina so we had a change of clothes when we got to Beinglas Farm. It wasn’t raining when we left so that was good. When I drive to Drymen from home I always go over the Erskine Bridge and through Balmaha but Neal went through the Clyde Tunnel, past Bearsden and on to Drymen. It seemed a lot quicker but we were chatting about the day ahead so the time flew. We arrived at Drymen just before 9am to be met by a good number of runners getting ready. Tim arrived just after us and then Marco, Debbie and Sharon arrived in time for the group photo.
We sorted out mobile phone numbers and made sure everyone knew what we were doing regarding lifts back and then we set off about 9.20am. The group consisted of Ian B, Marco C, Debbie M-C, Sharon, Neal G, Tim D, Jon C, Ian K, Ellen T, George R, Jim A and me. Jan C and Mags T were very kindly providing back-up driving to Balmaha and Rowardennan. Thanks. We ran up to the road were the route crosses and met John Kennedy there. John ran with us for about 10miles before running back.
Drymen to Balmaha (7miles – 1hr 22mins)
The group stayed together for the first half an hour or so with Debbie and Sharon leading the way. I had a chat with Ellen about her recent Everest trip which was really interesting. I’m looking forward to seeing the photos soon. The weather was fine. No rain and not too cold. The ground underfoot was wet but nothing too difficult. After a while the group naturally split up into 2/3 groups but everyone had someone to run with.
My inov-8 terrocs are starting to fall apart and I’d put some tape on to try and cover the holes in the fabric. The tape lasted about 30mins and fell off but the shoes completed the runbut will need to be retired!
The path up and over Conic Hill was very wet so we all made sure we were careful. I was wearing my new skins and was interested to see if they would make any difference. I had decided to try and be even though cautious on the way down off Conic Hill so as not to put too pressure on the quads. As it turned out everyone was pretty cautious on the way down as it was so wet and slippy.
We were a group of 8 coming into Balmaha and everyone seemed to be going well. Jon’s wife Jan was providing back-up and Jon had said to her I’ll be at Balmaha about 1.2-2hrs but we were a bit early and Jan had popped into the shop. Good lesson for the back-up. We had a quick 5min stop and then set off to Rowardennan.
Balmaha to Rowardennan (7.5miles – 1hr 30mins)
We had been warned that in some places the path might be unpassable but it was very wet obviously but we styaed on the route the whole way. I ran a good part of this section chatting with Ian B and Marco. We continued our discussion started on the Dec run about the role of speed training and also chatted about lots of other different aspects of the race and our preparation, hopes, dreams etc. We were aiming to run at race pace for the day which means that it is comfortable enough to be able to chat the whole time and that helps the miles to flow by without you really noticing.
By the time we reached Rowardennan I was still with Ian B, Marco, George, Ian K and Neal with the others not far behind. We stopped for a bit longer at Rowardennan. Jan and Mags making hots drinks – thanks. Just as we were about to leave Tim, Debbie, Sharon and Jim arrived so they were all going well. We had stopped for 14mins all together but it goes so quick and shows how much time you can lose at check points unless you are careful. So that became the point of discussion for a while.
Rowardennan to Inversnaid (7miles – 1 hr 27mins)
I was running and chatting to Neal for the first 20mins or so. Neal was saying that his knee was sore and that he had put his brace on. He felt it was going to be all right but was concerned about it and it was clear it was uncomfortable. Just as we passed the Youth Hostel Neal cried out in pain and couldn’t put any weight on it. On his blog he describes it like being shot. He carried on for another 10-15mins but 2 or 3 times he had the same sharp pain. Together with Ian and Marco, I was a bit concerned about Neal carrying on as the terrain gets harder the further up the route. One option was for me to ring Jan and see if she could come back for Neal and meet him at Rowardennan. When I rang Jan was at Balmaha but was happy to drive back and get Neal. Neal thought he might be okay to continue and so we decided to give it 5mins. Within a minute or two it was obvious that going back was the best option and I rang Jan who came back for Neal. Thanks Jan. Neal was gutted to have to go back but it was the right decision. Later he told me he had to walk the whole way as his knee was very sore. I hope he can sort it out quickly and get back on track with his training.
George was slightly ahead at this point and hadn’t seen we’d stopped for a bit so by now was well ahead. Ian B, Marco, Ian K and myself set off in pursuit.
As we were running along and chatting I must have been going on about how much I love this race and don’t want to really do any others when Ian made a joking comment saying ‘oh I didn’t realise you love it so much.’ As he did so he tripped and fell. That will teach him to make fun of me!! He was all right and more concerned that he might have ripped his new running top. It does show how easy it is to trip if you are not concencrating – even for a 7 time whw finisher.
We caught up with George before Inversnaid and I think he was happy to see us as he wondered whether he’d got lost!
The water fall by the hotel was in full flow. I took a bit of video which you can see later. Our timings were pot on as we arrived just under 1hr 30mins. It was at this point that I realise how good I still felt. My legs were not sore at all and I was felt I was running well within myself and finding the run easy. We stopped for 7mins for some food and drink and just as we were about to go Tim D ran past looking very good. He didn’t stop said he’d see us at Beinglas. Was this a challenge that we weren’t going to catch him?!
Inversnaid Hotel to Beinglas Farm (7miles – 1hr 32mins)
Every time I have run this section with Ian B he tells me how much he dislikes this bit and tells everyone else how tough it is. So I made it my mission to encourage him to think positively about it and enjoy it. Not sure I succeeded even though he kept telling us how much he likes this bit!!
Ian pushed on at the front and Marco and I set off behind him after George let us through. I did ask Ian whether he’d paid George to slow us down so he could get a start on us! The three of us ran together through the ‘touch’ bit. Well I say run but one of the things about this section is that you can’t really get going. You run for 5 paces then have to stop to climb over a rock or tree root.
Eventually we made our way onto the more runnable ground and I must admit I was inching to oush on as I still felt good and knew Tim was still ahead and that we only had a few miles to go. So I took the lead and ran up the gradual hill through the trees. Marco was right behind. We caught Tim just before the Bothe. I had been eating and drinking fine through the run and had kept some jelly babies that Ian had given us from his work. They were in a nice little tin so decided to get them out and enjoy them over the last half an hour or so. I opened the tin but it was upside down and lost the lot on the floor. Tim said I should stop and pick them all up but I think he wanted to get ahead again!!
Marco and I ran in strongly to Beinglas Farm. I said to Marco if he wanted to go ahead he was welcome but he was happy to run together. He had hurt his knee on Monday Snowboarding. Well actually he banged it on the chair lift! but hadn’t run since Monday so was happy with his run.
The last hour or so of the run the rain started but it wasn’t too bad and I didn’t put on my jacket or gloves. Infact I ran in the same gear all day without adding or taking anything off.
I arrived at Beinglas Farm feeling really good and was disappointed in some ways that we were finishing as I was happy to keep going. As I was doing a video clip Tim and Ian ran in. We didn’t stop too long and ran the half mile to Drover’s Inn where Katrina was waiting with the Van and some dry clothes. Thanks Katrina.
Drover’s Inn and home
It was great to get into dry clothes quickly and then we went into the Drover’s Inn for some soup and a hot drink. Over the next 45mins or so Ian K, George, Debbie and Sharon came in. We left just before 5 and Jon C, Jim and Ellen were still to come but Jan and Mags were waiting for them and taking them back to Drymen.
I drove the van back to Drymen, said our goodbyes and then Katrina and I drove to Balloch where we stopped at MacDonalds for someone to eat before heading home.
So it was a great day and it gave me a real boost that I am running well at the moment and really enjoying it. My legs feel fine and as I write this the next morning I’m aware I’ve ran a decent run but they are not sore at all. I’m not sure if it is the skins, my training over the last few months or the last year. Maybe a combination of a number of things but long may it continue!
I’m planning an easier week this week as this was part of what I learnt last year – the need to give my body some time to recover after these long runs.
I will post a youtube with photos and video of the run as soon as possible!