I was up at 5.30am, had some porridge and honey, got kitted up including putting a fair bit of sudocrem on my feet. Neal and Caroline arrived at 6.2am and we were off to Tyndrum. Straight forward journey arriving at about 7.30am. We spent most of the way chatting about running. Caroline, with Neal, is running the London Marathon in two weeks. Caroline received one of the club allocated places and I was the one who made the draw before the Hogmanay run!
When we arrived there were a number of runners already there. John C and Aileen had set off at 7am. We had the obligatory group photo and then just as we were about to start Tim arrived in his car. He decided to drive to Bridge of Orchy and run from there. So I set off with Ian B (who was planning to run for a couple of hours before turning round and heading back), Thomas, Marco, Davie, Neal and Gavin. Debbie and Alyson saw us off and then they drove to Kingshouse and ran to Fort William from there. We didn’t see them until Fort William.
Tyndrum to Bridge of Orchy – 6.64miles in 1hr 01min 44secs (average pace 9.18)
The weather was raining as we set off but it didn’t last long and I took my jacket off after 45mins or so. I ran most of the way with Ian chatting about various things but mostly our training and plans and hopes for the whw race. After our fast pace on our last training run in February we were all determined to try and run more conversatively yet we still ran this section 10mins faster than my plan. But we did stay together and it felt easy. We arrived at Bridge of Orchy to be greeted by our excellent support team for the day – Silke (Thomas’ wife) abd Caroline and Peter her Dad (Neal’s wife and father-in-law). They were a great support throughout the day. Plus Jan (John’s wife) supported as well. Jim joined us at Bridge of Orchy but hadn’t been feeling too good and ended up cutting his run short and heading home. Hope you are feeling better Jim. (Plus if you read this I have your flask and sweets – I’ll return then at the Fling). I didn’t stop here and headed straight off up the hill.
Bridge of Orchy to Kingshouse – 12.01miles in 2hrs 00mins 45secs (10.03)
One or two of the group did stop at Bridge of Orchy for a few minutes but over the next 20mins or so they caught up and by the time we arrived at Victoria Bridge we wer back together. Again our excellent support team were waiting for us. I grapped some food and set off with Ian while the rest stopped a bit longer. This meant Ian and I ran ahead at teh start of the Rannoch Moor. The weather was cold and it tried to snow a bit but generally it was fine. I never needed gloves the whole day and ran in shorts but my hands were the coldest over this next hour or so. As we reached the 12mile mark Ian said his goodbyes and turned round and ran the 12miles back to Tyndrum. He needed to be back for 2pm as he was off to Edinburgh with Allybea for a posh meal before the International Cross Country. The rest of the group caught up and we ran in together to Kingshouse. We arrived about 5mins aheasd of schedule but everyone seemed to be going well. So we were down to 6 now. At Kingshouse I stopped for 5mins. I sat down as part of trying out how that feels. I ate some pasta, had a smoothie, took some jaffa cakes and was off again for the next leg.
Kingshouse to Kinlochleven – 9.20miles in 1hr 40mins 23secs (10.55)
I set off ahead of the group but over the next 20mins they caught up again. Marco was the first to appear. I have to be careful running with Marco as his natural pace is faster than mine and if I’m not careful I can easily find myself running just a bit quicker than I want. We chatted about his comment on his blog recently where he feels he is trying to train and race at too many distances. A number of our group are doing the London Marathon. Personally I like to really concentrate on one race and try and gear everything for that. I wouldn’t like to be trying to train for a road Marathon while training for an off road ultra. For me the Fling and whw are more than enough to work on. It will be interesting to see how it all works out for everyone. Neal set off a bit later from Kingshouse having changed shoes and gear but he caught up by the time we reached the bottem of hill leading to the Devil’s Staircase.
Some of the group stopped to get some supplies from our support team but I set off walking up the hill with Gavin. I really enjoy these long up hill sections. I know I have 25mins or so to walk and can get into a good rhythm and give my running muscles a well deserved rest. Half way up the hill we saw Peter Duggan running down to see us. Peter lives in Kinlochleven and ran the race last year. It was really good to see him again and catch up. He was hoping to see us at the bottem of the hill but we were ahead of schedule.
On the accent I overtook John C and Alieen. They were going well. I also passed a number of cyclists pushing their bikes up the hill. Hope they had a good time riding down as it looked hard work pushing them up! There was some snow on the path but not as much as I was expecting.
After a quick pause at the top for a photo with Thomas and Aileen we set off on the run down to Kinlochleven. I knew that the rest of the group would be quicker on the way down and sure enough they caught us and headed off. One of the things I was hoping to learn from this run is how my quads are in comparison to last year. So far they were feeling fine but I knew this long decent into Kinlochleven would test them.
I have always thought this section is 8miles but according to my gps watch it is over 9miles so that was interesting. It was obvious that we were well ahead of the 2hr schedule I’d given so Davie and myself eased off a bit and let most of the others push on. The path above Kinlochleven is a lot smoother now. It seems there has been a lot of trucks going up and down to the pipes so the large stones have been smoothed out. It certainly made running down a lot easier.
We caught Gavin on the way down and the three of us ran into Kinlochleven together. Thomas was just ahead of us and Neal and Marco were already at the cars. I had another 5mi stop – time for a rice pudding and some more drink and then off again for the final 15miles to Fort William.
Kinlochleven to Lundavra – 8miles in 1hr 21mins 12secs (10.53)
Again I set off first with Thomas and the rest caught up within a few minutes. Peter continued on with us for about 30mins before returning home. Again I enjoy the climb out of Kinlochleven and was at the front of the group until I paused for a photo and Marco and Peter took over.
Once we arrived at the top of the climb it was clear Thomas was inching to get going. Two weeks ago we ran the Lairig Mor race and Thomas had run this section very strongly. He really enjoys the up hills and was soon off and away. I bright red dot getting smaller in the distance. I ran with Marco for a while. I wanted to see how far I could run without walking and so set off at a steady pace. Marco walked the first few small hills and so I would overtake him, then on the flat or downhill he would go past me again. But after a few of these Marco set his sights on Thomas and was off leaving me to run on my own for a while. This was the first time all day I’d been alone and I enjoyed being able to think and work on my running technique.
I ran for a good distance but then walked a few of the hills further up the track. After 30mins on my own I was hoping that someone would catch me up and sure enough Davie arrived. That gave me a new lease of life and we were able to run into Lundavra together. One thing did happen over this time which was a bit scary. My sight went a bit blurry. I couldn’t focus properly and it was hard to get a sense of depth and thought I could easily trip. I took another succeed tablet and some water and it soon passed but I don’t want to experience that again. I’ve read and heard about that happening but I’ve not had before.
Davie and I ran into Lundavra where I drank another smoothie and after a couple of minutes we were off again. Neal arrived just as wee were leaving and said that Gavin was struggling a bit. In the end Gavin stopped at Lundavra as he is doing the London Marathon and didn’t think it would help trying to run the last 7miles if he wasn’t feeling very good.
Lundavra to Fort William – 6.68miles in 1hr 17mins 17secs (11.20)
Eating and drinking on these long runs and the race itself is obviously really important and I’ve tried to experiment with various things to help. Today I made three important discoveries which hopefully will help me. Firstly smoothies are great. I really enjoyed being able to drink them and looked forward to having them which really helps. Secondly grapes are my fruit of choice. Katrina bought me a big bag to take and at each stop I took some with me. I enjoy eating them and they digest easily. Plus I’m sure they kick in quickly as I definitely feel the effects in how I feel pretty soon. Thirdly I tried jaffa cakes today which I could eat so they will be added to the list of food to take as well.
Davie and myself ran/walked over the next few miles. We were both feeling okay but our legs were tiring so we didn’t push too hard. Even so we still ran all the level and downhill bits. It also made me realise what a good run two weeks ago was as I ran everything then!
It was good to get to the top of the hill and then start the decent into Fort William. We ran at a steady pace and enjoyed the views of Ben Nevis (even though it was in cloud). When we were about 3 miles from the finish Neal suddenly appeared having ran very well down the hill. He did say how much he enjoys the downhill sections and he certainly made up a good minutes on the descent. We wlaked and chatted for a bit and then just before the Braveheard car par we started running again. Caroline, Peter and Gavin were waiting for us at the car park.
We keep running and ran into the leisure centre. I hadn’t realised but Davie dropped off from Neal and myself as his back was sore. Sorry about that Davie. When I realised he wasn’t there I felt bad as he’d reallyhelped me running into Lundavra and here I was pushing on without him! I could see Neal was spoiling for a race over the last 400 yards so stayed with him. Neal took delight in getting to the car park of the leisure centre a stride in front of me but then stopped while I ran to the steps of the centre so I’m afraid you didn’t get there first Neal!! Marco and Thomas had stopped at the official whw sign post and were in the cafe!
We were in time to get a shower which was very welcome. In fact both Neal and myself found it hard to get out! We had time for a group photo at the end and then I headed back to Paisley with Neal and Caroline. Thanks so much for the lifts. On the way I chatted to Aileen on the phone. She was waiting to catch the 17.41 train back to Tyndrum.
Post run thoughts ….
So I ran the 42miles in 7hrs 34mins 10secs which was almost 50mins faster than the same run last year. There are a number of differences. Firstly I do feel a lot fitter and stronger this year and this run showed that. Also this year I was running with a number of runners who are faster than me so they pushed the pace and the rest of us were pulled along.
As I write this it is now Sunday afternoon and my legs feel fine. I’m aware that I have done a long run but I don’t have soreness in my quads. I can walk downstairs without any problem so that is really encouraging.
So the next big run is the Highland Fling which is 4 weeks away. My plan this week is for an easy week to recover. I plan to go to the club tomorrow night but will take it very easy. Anyone reading this from my group please remind me if you see me working too hard!!
I have a number of photos and video clips so I’ll try and put that together in the next day or two. Thomas and Silke sent me some great photos and Caroline took lots as well so I’ll put them all together.
So thanks to everyone who ran yesterday. It was another great day on the whw.