For those of you who have come across this blog in a frantic search for who that guy running as NUMBER ONE was for the Clyde Stride, then I’ll give you a wee break down of the big fella’s training…
January 2013 – Gran Canaria Marathon. A solid first effort marathon for Scott and bonding session with Norm and Ally.
February 2013 – Takes a rest and starts to think beyond marathons. Enters the D33. Manages to do some training at the end of the month.
March 2013 – D33 completed. He’s never doing that again (or words to that effect). Amazing breakfast at the Park Inn Aberdeen the following morning.
April 2013 – Takes a fancy to Lee and enters the Clyde Stride. I commit myself as a buddy runner.
May 2013 – Training takes full flight. Our flat is a war zone. We switch from fish finger sandwiches to fish finger wraps. This is an athlete’s flat now.
June 2013 – International visitors arrive from all directions. A wedding disrupts the training schedule followed by a cheeky trip to Lisbon.
To be fair, Scott could have trained in Lisbon. I worked out the distance from our ghetto to the airport and it would have made for one of those adventure runs where you get up at an insane time in the morning just so you can get to where you need to be on time. And imagine sitting on that plane, looking worse than the other passengers with sunburn and hangovers, sore long legs crammed into a tiny seat space and having nothing to eat because airport terminal T1496B lacks the size and facilities required to buy a panini... Ok, I can see why he didn’t do it. But I did run into Debbie M-C in Lisbon. She ran there from Glasgow*.
My motivation for the local curry restaurant has been stronger than my motivation for running recently. So with both of us needing to attempt a long run to ensure we make the first check-point at the Clyde Stride, we headed to the Southern Upland Way for a crunch time run. I had the Sunday off work and celebrated that a little too hard the night before with some White Russians. At least I learnt a valuable lesson; if you run for long enough you will sweat out all the celebration in your system and therefore run off your hangover. Lorna MacMillan’s success is a perfect example of this theory also.
|Southern Upland Way|
A Wesley Debut
Lee sent around an email a week before the race asking for first time ultra-runners to identify themselves. I figured that it was my first time running as a Mrs Wesley (even if I have failed to change my name anywhere at present) that I would claim to be one. Lee wasn't falling for it.
We’d checked the rear end times for last year’s race and were prepared to have the sweeper nudge us into the finish sometime after nine hours. We scramble onto the 06:52 train from Edinburgh on the Saturday morning and make our way to the buzzing neighbourhood of Partick. Seriously, it was heaving. So we mingle away, Scott’s nervous about where to put his NUMBER ONE and I’m nervous that the coffee shop isn’t going to open before the race starts. And then when it does open I order a regular when I should have ordered a large… Mingling is great. Maybe I should arrive for more races on time.
When I put our drop bags into the vans I get stopped as there is a giant NUMBER ONE plastered on the front of each bag. They don’t want me putting these into the number two and three vans. It’s ok dude, I’m with NUMBER ONE. I was myself honoured with number 69. That Mrs Mac is a rude one. Tim Downie’s sweeping and he’s literally brought along his sweep. There’s also a whip. I don’t fancy being swept along today. I run a bit late for the start line and have to squeeze in between the pros whilst being scalded by Lee.
Once we start I am pleased that I read my race briefing and took note about the road shoes suggestion. Although I ran the race two years ago, I cannot remember the course. I’d previously told Scott it was trail and to wear his trail shoes. Waterproof and all they are. Fancy. Anyway, it’s flat and on pavement. I keep slowing down as I see Johnny Fling in the distance and not only is his chat atrocious but we’re also going too fast if we are running near him. Only serious guys wear vests you see. But eventually he jumps over a fence to check out the river action and we pass by him only for him to pump six-minute miles to catch us. That’s how fast we were I think.
Usually I get to zoom through the check-points whilst being handed my chosen delicacies, occasionally screaming a few diva requests. Clyde Stride Round Two, Checkpoint One, is a more leisurely affair. We picnic. Johnny Fling leaves without us due to our fluffing around-ness. I cram smoothies into my miniature backpack because I just can’t bear to leave them behind.
|Photo thanks to David Mooney|
This Race is Flat
It’s true, this race is so flat we’ve barely walked. An ultra without walking is just not my style of running. We continue our parade with Johnny Fling. I’m there for supervision purposes. These boys have watches; coloured watches. During Scott’s first half marathon he stood on the start line amongst other runners desperately trying to get their GPS signals. Not to be outdone, Scott stood there also playing with high tech functions on his watch. The light function that is. Yeah, he has a watch with a light. I don’t. However when I do get one I will know that I am a WINNER in LIFE. Anyway, so these boys are playing with the light functions on their coloured watches. This must be what the Star Wars movies are like; some dudes dressed inappropriately with light beams shooting about. I’m Princess Leia, obviously.
Upon approaching a traffic light crossing the marshal checks his watch (maybe it had a light too, I forgot to ask). He reads the fear on our faces; that fear of being timed out. I feel so bad for both Scott and Johnny Fling. This is a big deal to both of them; Scott as this will be the furthest he has run and Johnny Fling because he’s just getting himself on the road to recovery. Should we keep running anyway or flag it and go to the pub? Don’t fret though folks, the marshal is just timing the traffic lights. That’s some job commitment. It’s obviously going to be more fun too as anything with mathematics involved always becomes more fun. I should have been more committed to the job by watching Star Wars when I was trying to get an Autistic boy to join in the class writing programme. He loved Star Wars but eventually told me he didn’t want to write Star Wars with me anymore because I don’t know enough about it. If only I’d got myself a watch with a light!!
We go past an Iceland and I offer the group we’re running with ice lollies. They didn’t take me up on the offer. I’m not sure if they didn’t think I was serious or if it was too early in the day for ice lollies but I was a bit disappointed. I could have done with a vanilla Cornetto myself. I don’t have a bladder in my backpack and I can’t be bothered taking my drink bottle out to then have everything slip down inside my bag, so I drink out of my drink bottle whilst it is still in my bag. I think I’m a genius. The guy behind us thinks I’ve got a wine box in there and he sticks close for the rest of the race... Wise guy is White Wine Racer. Except that he wants red wine. But he’s wearing a white t-shirt so for descriptive reasons he needs to be known as White Wine Racer. True story.
|Scott and Johnny Fling|
The chat was so awesome that I can’t remember what else happened before the second checkpoint. I do remember Terry Addison had unbuttoned his Hawaiian shirt by the time that we had arrived and that Scott’s chocolate milk had been turning itself into the hot chocolate sauce you put over your chocolate pudding… mmm… chocolate pudding… Scott gets told off for not drinking enough. I’m chowing into custard and getting anxious over my growing pile of smoothies. Custard and I go way back. Smoothies and I have a relatively new running relationship. Anyone would think this was a food blog.
And that’s us at about halfway.
The Glaswegian Desert
It exists you know. And it’s hot. It makes Scott’s neck red and my bag straps sweaty causing unattractive chaffing. We pass a very classy looking amusement park. Johnny Fling is being a bit lazy and walking on the flat bits so I will Scott on. There will be no more laser fighting today. There will just be exposed cow fields with grown men; fried, thirsty and helpless. It’s a sad sight. Scott’s struggling. He’s got a shuffle going. Sometimes I let him ahead to set the pace. Other times I run ahead, trying to get him to go a bit faster. I honestly don’t know how we were catching people because I felt like we couldn’t be going any slower. You could tell that the conditions were really tough for people though. It was too hot for me and I grew up on a Pacific Island. My tan is going to be fantastic though. Or ridiculous, depending on how those strap lines work out.
I was jealous of the guy who was wearing the hat with the neck flap. He said he was hot underneath but I thought he looked cool. At Primary School we wore neon ones like that. Child of the nineties. My hat with a flap definitely wasn’t neon pink but I can’t remember if it was neon yellow or neon green. If I can find a picture, I’ll post it up. I left my visor in my backpack for the finish. Because you always want to put your visor on AFTER you’ve run 40 miles in the scorching sun**. My visor is quite new. I like it. It’s red. I’ll wear it for you sometime. Scott wouldn’t let me get the white one. Something about looking like I was out for a tennis match and getting it dirty. Anyway, the one time I wore the new red visor it kept blowing off. So I thought I shouldn’t wear it today in case it was windy. I could have read the weather forecast.
Johnny Fling has a black visor. It’s from North Face. What a guy. He catches us before the third checkpoint as we are walking with Neil. Well, he caught Scott and Neil walking. I was bonding with a stinging nettle bush. I’d had to climb over a gate for the privilege and then tear past runners at a speed of sprinting to catch back up.
The third checkpoint springs itself upon us. Scott has packed so much in his drop bag that Lorna thinks we’re sharing. Big ups to the crew who kept my chocolate milk in the shade. I’m also sharing a coke with Antony for the rest of the race because I’ve given up hope that I will find a bottle called Antonia. I leave a smoothie. I still feel bad about leaving it. I hope someone drank it and gave it the love that it deserved. Once we’ve left this checkpoint I know that we are going to make it. Mostly because there’s no other option.
To Lanark, My Dear
We lose Johnny Fling because he decides to go for a swim. I don’t like swimming. There should be lots of hills to walk now. The flat parts are a struggle. Scott’s got the shuffle going. I’ve not been critical or complimentary of Scott thus far. It’s his run and I’m there to open the gates for him. No wait, just general support. I am more than a gate opener. Although I do like opening gates for people. It gives me a warm fuzzy feeling inside. Or maybe that’s the Glaswegian desert?
Scott’s catching people. I don’t think we’re going particularly fast but we’re steady. It’s nice to see people ahead and realise that you’re not going to die alone in the desert. You’ll die together. And there’s something comforting about that. We caught Michael as Scott was starting to feel stronger so I walked with Michael for a while. His pal, the winner had already finished. Ah well, at least we were still getting our suntans. We get told that there is about 10kms to go. This might be a lie. I decide I better catch up with my husband so push on. I pass the BRIDGE. The bridge that Davie Gow and I crossed over two years earlier. The bridge that you have to turn off the course to run over and is therefore not that way the course goes. I remember being lost at the time and thinking that it was probably meant to be as I could just hitchhike it home and have the run done with. But eventually we backtracked and got ourselves back on the trail, wondering what possessed us to turn off the correct path anyway. And then we ran together, both totally done in with Davie telling me how many miles we had to go and me not understanding miles. Davie ran again this year and smashed that time from two years ago.
|Opening a gate for Michael (Photo thanks to David Mooney)|
I make Scott run up a gradual incline into a town before Lanark (wild guess here). He wants to throttle me at the top. Don’t blame me though, blame the guys in front. They kept running so I decided Scott needed to too. Then Terry let’s Scott dunk his hat in some water and he’s good to go for the last three miles. That’s two laps round the Meadows. He can do that. But the Meadows is flat. And I want him to run up the hills. He needs to get his hands off his knees when he is going up the hills. I need to keep patient. A fun wiggly downhill which gets him flying. I get the speed wobbles and nearly wipe out on a corner. I warned Scott beforehand that we would come to a car park and buildings where lots of people who are finished would be. But we were not finished when we saw them. The finishers were all cheering, stopping cars for us and getting me very excited. With half a mile to go (well that’s what the majority were saying, although one guy had said 1.5 miles…) I decided it was time for a sprint finish. Scott decided it wasn’t.
Antony and I were getting pissed off. We were lacking in fizz and rather warm. There is beer at the finish. I know there is. I’ve done this before. I’m just running ahead now. It’s up to Scott to keep up. I can push him, we’re nearly there. I know he’s got enough to finish strong. There’s a hill to fly down but he doesn’t want to fly. At the bottom I am left no choice. I turn round, glare and tell him to HURRY UP. And then I take off. And he’s taking off. And I’m loving it. We are bouncing on the wooden flats. There are some people to pass and we’re flying between them. BEER! Up some stairs or something, zip around a corner and I can see the grass. Arms up and we cross the line together. I gave him the option of carrying me across the finish line but he didn’t take me up on it.
Our finishing time is 7 hours and 37 minutes. Had to turn on the light to read the watch to double check. What a blinder, an hour faster than I wanted and two hours faster than we’d prepared ourselves for! We’d also managed to pass seven people in the last three miles. I couldn’t have us conking on the final stretch and having my reputation ruined***.
|Happy Clyde Stride finishers|
Buddy running is really fun. You get to have all the banter and the glory when you finish. Scott’s still talking to me so that’s a bonus. He’s even thinking about doing another. There was a party at the finish. George was in the buff. Scott wants to be George when he grows up. He’s even talking about getting an epic van and taking his mountain bike to Glenmore to go cycling. He doesn’t even own a mountain bike. There’s a party again at Glenmore this year. Open invite. Midgies included. See you there.
Thanks to all the wonderful marshals. Most importantly a massive thanks to Lee for always being a happy face and for calling Scott a ginger at the first checkpoint. Giving him NUMBER ONE has really gone to his head though. Thanks for my XS t-shirt. I flaunted it at the gym the following day. I’ve been showing off my tan by wearing vests all week at work. I hope I haven’t made you feel too pale Sarah. I need to stop flaunting my toes however as I am about three jogs away from losing my big toenails. A combination of hot puffy feet, new shoes and refusing to buy the size 3.5 when the size 3 is on sale means that I will be in the middle of the best summer Scotland has ever seen without any nails on my prominent toes… I’ve got a wedding next week too. Scott’s friends. Bet he’s going to be proud to show me off!
And a wee note to my Dad... I don't think you should write Scott any more training plans because he nearly beat my Clyde Stride time...
And a wee note to my Dad... I don't think you should write Scott any more training plans because he nearly beat my Clyde Stride time...
*I might be lying
**I realise that the sun may be hotter in official ‘desert’ races
***I would like to exclude 24 hour races from my reputation please