West Highland Way Training Weekend Run

Saturday 1st February 2014

This was the third year we have done this training weekend and we were really looking forward to it. Katrina and I had booked in to stay for Friday and Saturday night at the Oak Tree and feels a real treat!

We arrived just after 7pm and once we’d settled into our room headed down to the bar to spent a couple of hours chatting with friends new and old.

We were up and down for breakfast at 8am which gave us a couple of hours to digest a hearty breakfast before the 10am start.

Ian briefed the runners and we were off right on time after a group photo of course ….01 group

I reckon we had at least 70 runners.  The plan was to run out to Inversnaid and back which is 30miles but obviously people were able to turn whenever they like.  I reckon about half did the full distance.

The weather forecast has been for gail force winds and rain but thankfully the wind didn’t really materialise. It rained off and on but I never put on my OMM jacket so it can’t have been too bad!

Balmaha to Rowardennan (7.65miles)

I had 3 main aims for the run ….

  • Start at the back and try and chat to as many people as I could on the way out.
  • Push harder on the way back from Inversnaid.
  • To run faster than last year’s 6:05:42 with a bonus of a negative split …. i.e. run back faster than I ran out.

I ran with Katrina for the first mile or so. Katrina’s plan was to run 10miles out and 10miles back which she did.

02 hillThere were plenty of people all together on the first few miles but once we got going it was fine. Most people seemed to have someone to run with.

I chatted to various people on the run to Rowardennan including John D, Karen D, Noanie H, Allan G, Sandra to name a few.  I chatted for a while then pushed on until I caught someone else and chatted to them.  The miles few by and I was feeling really good.

I caught up with Malcolm who we’d met the night before. Malcolm also comes from Liverpool (and is a blue!) and it turns out we went to neighbouring schools. Malcolm reckons mine was were all the tough boys were and they were sacred of us!!

Malcolm’s job involves working all over the world and he basically arranges where he works depending on where an ultra is!  Infact he did an ultra at Ooty, India where we lived and worked for 5 years. In fact he won it!!

So we ran in to Rowardennan together chatting about the West Highland Way race and how Malcolm can improve on his 2013 time!

  • Leg: 7.65miles in 1:27:20 (11.25pace)

There were a small group staring around so a quick photo and then off to Inversnaid.

04 Rowardennan

Rowardannan to Inversnaid (7.20miles) 

I was still wanting to run easily so made sure I felt comfortable.  Malcolm and I caught up with a couple of runners, then I ran with Mark and Robbie (?). It turned out Mark works with Calum McK and Robbie knows Donald P so it was fun to catch up with various bits of news.

Quote a few of the people I ran with hadn’t done the full race before so it was fun to be able to share my ‘knowledge.’ With 6 finishes I feel an elder statesman!!! I think that with a couple of sub 20hrs times but also a 27hrs plus time I have a wide range of experience!

I felt I was running a faster than this time last year and even though I was running steady and chatting the whole way I noted that I was 15mins faster to the point where the track goes to single file with 2.76miles to go to Inversnaid.

I feel I am one month further down the fitness road this year as my next race is the Hardmoors 55 which is a month earlier than the Fling so this run has come just at the right time.

I was wondering when we would see the leading runners on the way back and I wasn’t surprised to see Matt W leading the way with another runner Gerry (I think).  They looked to be moving well.

I also high fived Rick who looked strong. He seemed surprised to see me so near Inversnaid so I took that as a positive sign that I was going well.

I ran into Inversnaid with Robbie and Mark and with a mile or so to go we caught up with a group of 5 runners being led by Ian Beattie.

Inversnaid came before I really thought about where we were which I also take as a good sign that I’m going well.

  • Leg: 7.20miles in 1:12:25 (10:03pace)
  • Overall: 14.85miles in 2:40:33 (10:49pace)

I stopped for 3mins and after another photo set off back to Rowardennan and Balmaha.

05 InversnaidIt was good to see Jamie A and congratulate her on their challenge of climbing all the Munros in 2013.  An amazing achievement!

Inversnaid to Rowardennan (7.19miles)

I set off with Ian B with a clear goal of running harder on the way back. I was feeling really good and looking foreword to seeing whether I could go back faster. I was out in 2hrs 40mins so anything under 5.20 would be a negative split. Last year the run took me 6:05 so I knew I should be well under that.

I chatted to Ian and was deciding when to push past when Sandra came the other way. Ian stopped to have a chat so I took my chance and pushed on. It was first time I was really on my own so enjoyed the solitude.

Over the next 15mins I saw all the runners still leading out and tried to high five as many as I could! Most people were running with someone so that was good.

I’d seen Andy leaving Inversnaid as I arrived but I didn’t expect to see him as he is a stronger runner than me.  I met Sean on his bike as I climbed one of the hills so didn’t stop to chat.

I was using my Matrix energy drink and also ate a peanut butter and jam sandwich. I felt I had enough energy and continued to run hard. I had to hold myself back a couple of times as I had to remind myself there was still 10miles to go and I wanted to finish strongly.

Once I got back onto the wider path I saw a couple of runners ahead so ran up most of the hill to catch them. It was Ian M and Andy. Ian had turned at 13miles and Andy was keeping him company for a bit.

Ian encouraged Andy to push on so he joined me and we ran all the way into Rowardennan together. I really enjoy running with Andy and we chatted all the way in. As mentioned Andy is a strong runner but is coming back from injury and hasn’t done many long runs recently.

I could feel that I was running stronger which was a novel experience and one that I was enjoying!!  It doesn’t happen very often so I was making the most of it!

I paused at Rowardennan to take a video of Andy running past and then we were off for the final leg back to Balmaha.

  • Leg: 7.19miles in 1:09:55 (9:43pace)
  • Overall: 22.04miles in 3:53:30 (10:36pace)

Rowardennan to Balmaha (7.73miles)

I was hoping Andy and I would run together but Andy said the lack of long runs was starting to tell and he encouraged me to push on which I did.

I ran as much as I could. On the hills I would run for 20, 30 or 50 breathes before walking. I ate a couple of energy bloks and my energy drink. I was thinking about how I felt last year when I ran this section with Mike R.

I remember I was finding it hard to stay with Mike who very kindly slowed down to run with me. This year I felt I was flying and was feeling so strong. It was such a confidence boost for the rest of the year.

I caught up with Ian K who was also getting back to training after an injury. He had turned after 7miles or so I think he said.  Ian said he hadn’t seen anyone for ages so I wasn’t expecting to catch anyone else.

But with about 3miles to go I caught up with Bill and Ross who were walking along chatting. I think I surprised them and told them to get a move on! They took it as a challenge and the three of us ran pretty hard along the paths and then on the ‘beach’ section.

They were snow going stronger than me so I let them go and ran my own pace to the finish. I went past Susan G with less than a mile to go. She had a good run but gone over on her ankle at17miles and was taking it easy.

I pushed on to the finish and was really pleased to stop my watch on 5:16:29.

  • Leg: 7.73miles in 1:22:38 (10:41)
  • Overall: 29.77 in 5:16:38 (10:41pace)

I asked a passer by to take a photo of me at the finish …

06 JohnTo say I was pleased with my run would be an understatement! I achieved all the goals for the run and more. I was 48mins faster than last year and felt I could have kept going.  So it was such a boost in my build up to the Hardmoors 55 in 7 weeks time.

The key thing now is to build on the foundation I’ve laid ion January.  This week will be my easy week with 5 easy runs. I must make sure I don’t do anything silly and recover well so I can have another good block of 3 weeks starting a week tomorrow.

It was great to head up to our room and have a shower within 5mins of finishing. Katrina and I relaxed for a bit as I followed the Everton score. We went from 0-1 down at home to Aston Villa to win 2-1 rot complete a great day!

We went down to the bar and enjoyed the Oak Tree’s famous steak and mushroom pie …

07 pieWe enjoyed chatting to friends in the evening but headed to bed earlier than most! This morning we had a walk up Conic Hill but it was very wet and windy!

So a superb weekend. Thanks to everyone who came.  I took some video clips so I’ll put that together soon.

Here is a summary of my run with a comparison from last year’s times ….West Highland Way run 1 Feb

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3 Responses to West Highland Way Training Weekend Run

  1. Robbie Drummond says:

    Hi John, enjoyed running with you up to Inversnaid, and thanks for the tips on the full race. It was a great day out. Robbie

  2. Pingback: Report from West Highland Way Race Training Weekend | West Highland Way Race

  3. Joshua Rebol says:

    Hey John, I enjoyed your report. My wife and are coming over to race for this years edition and the video really gave a good snap shot. Thanks Joshua

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