I have spent the last 6 years supporting John on the West Highland Way which I did enjoy and felt I contributed something to his successes. Out of the blue, after the 2011 Fling John suggested I should try the Fling myself which at the time blew my mind.
I said I would think about it but personally I thought there was no way I could achieve this. I’d only been running for two years and the furthest I’d run was a half marathon. The day after the 2011 West Highland Way Race there was a rumour afoot that I was actually running the Fling – thank you John, Debs and Silke!!
After running the Loch Ness Marathon I took the bait thinking trail running must be easier than running a road marathon. John was in his element producing a laminated training schedule with short term and long term goals. I enjoyed the various monthly training runs but hated the 35miles in February, partly due to the two out and backs we did from Beinglas Farm.
Thankfully I enjoyed the final 42mile training run which meant I was approaching the Fling with a positive frame of mind.
John promised that he would run with me and let me dictate the pace. I was really looking forward to a day out with John without the computer attached to his right hand – he still had access to texts, tweets and video though!!
I had set him the challenge – a week in advance – of telling me something encouraging about our relationship at each checkpoint (as long as we were on our own). I decided to run with a normal watch. John had mentioned 12hrs so I thought I could count down the hours as they normally fly by on the trails.
I wore my road shoes because they gave my sore foot much more support than my trail shoes which have little grip anyway.
I approached the start feeling excited and looking forward to the day – knowing that it would be sore at some stage but hoping that I could run to the end. I had the finish in my mind before I even started. I had nothing to aim for other than finishing. 12hrs was a time John had – he couldn’t cope without a strategy or goal!!
I loved the first 25miles feeling relaxed and enjoying the chat and company about me. It was so sad to see Ellen fall which did sober us up a bit.
The feeling of enjoyment and times of elation evaporated as we climbed out of Rowardennan. I felt I was walking too much but found running a bit too sore. I was worried I would run out of energy, I was finding it difficult to eat and needed a few toilet stops.
I needed my own company to sort myself out and got going again into Inversnaid. I enjoyed the lochside. My pace probably slowed but I preferred thinking about where I was placing my feet rather than pushing my aching legs.
It was great chatting with John and others who joined us. Apologies if I wasn’t as chatty as John – not many people are – but I did enjoy the company and listening to conversations. I began to know the order of things John would chat about! It was like running with a celebrity – everyone seemed to know who he was!!
The next dip in my attitude came as we left the lochside and made the climb to Dario’s post. It became a matter of gritting my teeth and keeping up with those ahead.
We had a photo taken at the post and looked out at the view. It made me feel so grateful that I was able to do the Fling, that I’d taken the opportunity and appreciated the fact that John was prepared was to run at my pace to accompany me.
From then on my mood changed again and I felt I could continue to enjoy the day. My running became smoother again and the miles and time went by.
Arriving at Beinglas was brilliant. It was amazing how cheering people buck you up. All the volunteers were so friendly and went out of their way to make it a great day for the runners. Thank you very much.
I honestly felt it was much better to be running than supporting. I think it is a lot less tiring and much more interesting. Even so I missed following the overall pattern of the race wondering which friends had finished and how others were getting on.
I felt in my own bubble but so glad I was there. I had 12miles to go. John had broken these down into 4 mini-sections which made it easier to focus. We passed through these smoothly. I was still running on the flats and downhills – walking hills and now the smaller slopes.
I was amazed at how I tackled the forest above Crianlarich. I was able to still run downhills without it being too big a problem.
Running those hours was worth the emotion and satisfaction I felt at hearing the Piper. It was John who shed the tears but I was able to hold it in!! It was with a tremendous rush of achievement that I ran through the crowd at the finish line.
I had no time to crumble because I had to find a place to control the nausea I had been experiencing on and off throughout the day. I need to wean myself off the need to throw up after a race!!
Lessons learnt …
# Having a positive attitude, enjoying the day and being so thankful I was able to do this race. It’s a priviledge to be part of such an event.
# Looking forward to the finish – it spurred me on because I wanted to get there!
# Don’t focus on sore parts.
# I needed to have a liquid diet to try to combat nausea.
# I’m now an ultra-marathon runner with ugly feet and black toe nails!!
# Big thanks to John. I wouldn’t have done it if he hadn’t started a rumour.
# Would I do it again? I’m not sure because I don’t like to chase times but I do have such great memories of the day.