Tuesday, 10 May 2011

April and the Fling

Overall, April was a pretty good month for running and running related activities - the Dunnottar Composter Challenge was hard work but a lot of fun and Balmoral was a good day out with a decent enough 5K time for me :)

But really, April was always going to be about the 53 mile Highland Fling and unfortunately it didn't exactly go to plan. I felt pretty good at the start and trotted along chatting to Mark and enjoying the scenery (I hadn't been on this bit of the WHW for twenty+ years so it was sort of new) which was good except that I totally forgot M1nty's advice and was running a wee bit quicker than I'd planned. Approaching the checkpoint at Drymen, I started to feel a bit uncomfortable in the stomach region so I stopped in the woods to try and clear things out a bit - it helped a bit but I still felt a bit iffy as I headed towards Conic hill and Mark went off ahead of me. The trek up the hill was pleasant enough but I still didn't feel great at Balmaha where I picked up food and headed for the loo again. For the next section, eating was a bit of a struggle, guts felt sore, legs felt tired, and the heat was increasing. As a result, my pace was decreasing steadily - running slower and less often. When I finally reached the "2km to Rowardennan" sign (which always feels like 5km to Rowardennan) and checked my watch it was getting near 2pm which meant it was going to be tough to reach Bein Glas before the 6pm gate (and very tough to reach the finish any time close to the cut off at 9pm). I decided to have a short break at the checkpoint to see how I felt, chatted to mates, then went off to the loo before making a decision. When I realised it felt sore to jog back across the car park from the toilets, I knew I'd had enough for the day, handed my chip to the marshal and pulled out of the race for my first ever DNF :(

hp gave me a lift round to the finish at By The Way in Tyndrum where we checked in to our respective living quarters and watched the finishers coming in. It was strange, feeling genuinely delighted for everyone else who did brilliantly to complete the course on a hot, hot day (many in fantastic times) but at the same time so disappointed that I wasn't still out running and crossing that line myself.

Lessons learned?
Train harder. Eat/drink safer (i.e. nothing different) in the run up (I had to visit the toilet 3 times before the race even started which was a bad sign). Slow down at the start, even if it feels easier to run with someone else. Take ginger? MTFU? Hopefully, the Cateran next weekend will be a better run.

Despite the race not going as planned, I did have a good weekend so here are some good things:
  • nice meal on Friday with old and new friends - good to meet Fenland Runner and Lapsed Athlete
  • great to see mr and mrs M1nty and chill with them before the race
  • running and chatting with Mark over the very pleasant first section
  • enjoyed seeing some of the relay runners go past and watching them bound down Conic Hill - watching good hill runners going down hill fast is always a pleasure
  • finding out Top Dogs got a prize in the relay
  • seeing everybody finishing - so pleased for you all
  • getting my bum pinched by a cheeky wee lady
  • fish and chips and beer at the Real Food Cafe
  • beer and crisps at Paddys - great company, lots of laughs and sitting in the "king's chair"
The plan for May is somewhat similar to April - a bit of training, a couple of short races, and an attempt at the longest race of my life. But this time, I'm even more determined to finish - and I've got 2 hours longer. It should be a snip ;)

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