Well, what a weekend that was. One with many ups and downs, both literally and figuratively, with tears and laughter, lots of hugs, with tea and cake and chips and beer, with winding paths that stretched and distorted both time and space. And rain. Lots of rain.
To be fair, the rain was expected - all the forecasts had been indicating a wet weekend - but what had been unexpected was the pain in my leg (somewhere on the outside about an inch or so below the knee) which appeared on Thursday morning, throwing my role as support runner into some doubt. Nevertheless, I achieved goal 1 (get Vikki to the start line in plenty time via registration and short kip in the car) despite the sore leg and my general desire to wander around the car park chatting to all the fabulous people who were there to run or crew or whatever.
And they're off
|Vikki and Dave at the start|
Drymen was wet - again, lots of support crew huddling under umbrellas waiting to see their runners through safely and see if they were going to need anything for the section over Conic Hill. All V needed was a quick kiss and off she went, leaving me to drive through the rain up to Balmaha where I had plenty of time to enjoy a cup of coffee with George, Karen, Joopsy and Siouxsie in the Oak Tree Inn (who had specially opened the pub and the shop for the race) before heading out to the car park in time to get a phone call from the top of the hill requesting dry clothes to be laid out and a cup of tea. There was a bit of a faff getting V into new clothes, but the tea seemed to keep her happy and she was soon off again in pursuit of Dave_K and Johnny Fling who had both left soon before her. Dave H and his crew were right next to us so I had a quick chat with them and then headed off to Tyndrum. The rain was belting down, there were huge puddles over the road, and I was a bit tired so it wasn't the greatest driving experience - still, I was probably a little more comfortable than the runners making their way up the other side of the loch.
MTFU about that knee, shanksi
|Heading for BoO|
It was great to see Vikki again and she seemed happy and full of beans - ready for the long trek ahead, although not before a change of clothes and a Pot Noodle.
It turned out that my knee was quite comfortable with the pace we set to Tyndrum so I was able to keep going and we had a nice walk, chatting about the scenery, other runners, how the race was going, and how all our friends were getting on elsewhere on the course.
A bit of a grump
On a high
|Jonathan and M1nty|
Down in the dumpsThe descent to Kinlochleven took a lot longer than expected, partly because we were a bit slow and partly because I'd completely forgotten about a large chunk of path. I had also started to notice a rubbing around my ankles. Moods were darkening like the night around us and (I'm disappointed to admit) there were a couple of tetchy exchanges. It was a great relief when we finally reached the town and headed for the warmth and comfort of the community centre where Graeme was waiting to get us whatever we needed. But first, Vikki needed to be weighed and she'd gained 2kg since the start of the race. This is a bad sign and Julie asked her to go to the loo and report back on her pee colour before any decisions were made, but it looked very possible that she'd be advised not to continue. So near (well, 15 miles to go but you know what I mean) but so far - all that to go home without a crystal goblet, I felt awful and I'm sure V was worse.....until she reappeared with the news that her pee was quite normal and that she had just realised that her previous weigh-ins had been without her hoody or waterproof trews. Big, big relief but I still needed to sit down for a few minutes and take the weight off my feet. I looked over and Vikki had lain down on a sofa after feeling a wee bit faint - more panic in my head but a few biscuits later, more sips of tea, and we were good to go again. We left KLL along with SueW, her infectious good mood gave us another wee boost and we made pretty good time up the steep hill to the Lairig Mor where we spotted some flickering orange lights. They turned out to be torches set out by the Trossachs Search and Rescue guys who were up in the hill keeping everyone safe and providing good cheer and encouragement (and doggy hugs if you like that sort of thing). We'd spotted the torches from the hill on the other side of KLL, from where they'd been a vague orange glow and it was a good moment to look back and pick out a few white spots from the head torches of some other runners. The Lairig Mor is a long and rocky path through the hills and it drained our spirits again but it was good to share some time with others: SueW gave us some caffeine tablets which, washed down with irn-bru, got Vikki going again for a bit; Lesley Halstead hobbled along, obviously in a lot of pain but determined just to keep going. The sky was lightening as we turned the corner but the path to Lundavra still stretched ahead and V was getting sore feet, tired, needing the toilet, generally just needing to get to the end. A stone in her shoe, normally a minor inconvenience, became a major problem and the air would have turned blue if it wasn't so bloody grey. A clump of trees made an acceptable toilet but was also home to a huge herd of midges which were busy swarming around me and trying to get some breakfast when Jonathan and M1nty went past again to my great surprise - I thought they were ahead of us as they'd been in and out of the KLL check point very quickly but had loitered in their camper van for a while.
The last push
|All downhill from here!|
A bit vagueEverything seems a bit vague but I remember getting some hot sweet tea and sitting down to chat to M1nty for a bit before Sean (race medic and really nice bloke) came over and told me I was looking a bit pale (I've seen the photos - I looked a mess frankly!). We had a chat about how I was feeling and he suggested I might be best lying down under a foil blanket and getting some rest. The invitation to lie down was too good to pass up so I let Sean lead me round to the casualty area, lay down and spent the next 40 minutes or so feeling variously hot, cold, sleepy, tearful, faint, hungry, nauseous, thirsty and generally wiped out. The medical diagnosis was that my body temperature had dropped through the night, and I was suffering from a mild hypothermic shock sort of thing that my brain had somehow decided not to notice for as long as possible but had then all hit me back at the top of the hill. It was all very strange, something I'd never felt in the same way before, although with some similarities to the coldness I felt at the LAMM this year. I was disappointed that I wasn't awake to see Dave K finish but pleased to hear that he'd made it to the leisure centre - news I heard from Carolyn who very kindly was checking on how I was doing. Eventually, I was able to sit up without feeling faint, but then it was time to face the next issue - the smelliest, evil socks and shoes were still on my feet and I was scared what might be underneath. My ankles felt like they'd been rubbed raw by the cuffs of my shoes, and my toes felt like they'd been flayed. Of course, I'd woken up thinking I wasn't going to do any running because of my sore leg but had ended up walking about 40 miles (I think) without taking any care of my feet - no lubrication, no taping, no blister prevention, nothing. I peeled off my socks dreading what I was going to see, but to be honest, they weren't as bad as feared. Some of the skin was rubbed away and sore and they looked a bit raw but there wasn't much actual blood and the soles were surprisingly intact. Yes, they stung in the shower, but really I was relieved that they weren't much worse. The pain in my knee was back, but I could walk. Things were looking up.
Ordinary people doing an extraordinary thing?
|Vikki getting her goblet from John K|
|"Team mrs shanksi" - job done!|