Glenmore party racing is in it's third year now. Each year it gets a little bit bigger and there are a few more rules as the serious runners start taking part. I ran the 12-hour two years ago in it's first year and it was brilliant. My pals Nicole and Hilary came up to support, drink and get intimate with the Highland midgies while Scott learnt that camping wasn't a strong skill of mine.
Last year I was meant to go back for the 24-hour. Unfortunately, I got a bit whingey over a niggle and just went up to party instead. This year I'd come back to do the 12-hour again. I wasn't prepared to put myself through another 24-hour failure this year and quite frankly I couldn't be arsed doing the training required either.
We decided the week before the race to drive up on the Friday night. Last time we tried to go somewhere via Aviemore we ended up going over the Cairngorms in a teeny car hire leaving some B&B owners worried about our whereabouts and some locals in a wee village perplexed. So we spent Friday night in a traffic jam, Scott missed the Scotland v Belgium football game and we found Ray McCurdy wandering about lost in the dark on the mean streets of Aviemore.You'll be happy to know that we transported him safely to the campground party.
Porridge from a stove top is awesome. Despite this also being a food blog, that's all I've got to say on the breakfast matter.
I like to skid into the start of races with only moments to spare but unfortunately this time I arrived in plenty of time. Thanks to Ada for not giving me too much jib for forgetting my medical form, then forgetting my husband's phone number and then for opening the box of chocolates. I love a good Twirl. I also would have gone for the Dairy Milk but I'm not really a Caramel fan so if someone ate all of them you can't go blaming me.
Thanks to Lorna for helping set up the tent so that I didn't have to. Thanks for also handing me safety pins when I was being a diva about having to wear the number on my shorts. I was worried about chaffing. For those interested, no chaffing occurred.
When the race starts I find that everyone is running up the steep grass incline as we exit the camping field. I am now puffed and have sore legs approximately three minutes into the race. It might be a long day. The course is brilliant and really suitable for running a good chunk of distance within the allocated time. It starts off on a grass flat as you run around the camping field, then up a grass incline, down a wee track, some more flat track, forest road by a loch, a few ups and downs, half way drink station, a brilliant gradual incline and then about a mile of downhill to end the four mile loop. I am neither competent nor confident at downhill running but this makes for some good running.
I trail behind Donald's tartan pants for quite a while. Maybe we're about four laps down. I'm not feeling very well. Things hurt a bit. It's hotter than I expected. I'm a bit moany when I pass Scott each lap. I wonder if I might have to lie down for a bit. I catch Caroline McKay rummaging in her box for chocolate as I walk backwards around a track eating custard. I can't decide if I'm hungry or full and I can hear the chocolate milk bouncing up in down in my tummy. Squelch, squelch. I remember this happened once when I decided to go around the Meadows before work one morning. Unfortunately, I can't remember if I decided to eat breakfast before or after the run so I can't determine the cause. How awfully useful of me.
Caroline isn't feeling well. She's hurting too. It might be hotter than she expected but after running the Western States I don't feel that I should start complaining about the 15 degree heat. There is an extremely bad photo of the two of us at about this stage. It makes the photo of me during the last hours at Steenbergen look like a model shot.
As Caroline takes a break I chase Johnny Fling. And then I tear away from him. He's being quite serious today; taking off too fast and all that. He powered off down the hill ahead of me the lap before so now he's getting some payback. Lorna has done about 14 laps already on her personal training session with Donnie Campbell. Jo Rae was talking about hill reps that she has to do because he trains her. Donnie has chased me up Arthur's Seat a few times lately as I have been out on my lunchtime run unaware. I wonder if that counts as hill reps or maybe I could count running up the hills now? I mean, I have done a few laps now. Surely that's repetition enough.
|Photo: Peter Diender|
Andy Johns hears my giant steps chasing him up the hill behind him. I'm obviously practicing my reps. We chat pacing, secrets that get left in the woods, house extensions and kitchen tables. We emphasize the importance of large kitchen tables and eating your potatoes in front of the children. Don't think that us runners aren't capable of completely normal conversations. On the next lap Andy walks up a hill he's promised himself and I carry on terrorizing other runners with my chat.
I'm still not feeling particularly well and start to wonder if I might need to pull out or lay down for a while. Usually it'd be luxurious to have a powder room every four miles but today I'm feeling slightly uncomfortable when I'm halfway around the lap. I have my snacking and drinking plan written down so that neither Scott nor I have to think about what I want to have when. He's had a bit of porridge drama. I always feel bad when I ask the crew to make porridge as I only eat about five spoonfuls anyway. But it's good and I'm a good girl for eating.
Some friends of Scott's have come out with their children to watch me run around in circles for a few hours. They just happened to be in Aviemore for this grand occasion. It's nice to see people and I feel like a bit of a fraud plodding around the field with food in my hands each time I pass. I've sold the ultra-running business to four-year Lyla though who thinks that we are all making it look like so much fun that she fancies taking it up herself when her legs are a wee bit longer.
BAM, SLAP, WHAM. That's just me taking a tumble. A full-on palm-slapping of the trail. I think I do a little yelp and scramble up. Neither the runner ahead nor the runner behind take any notice. Run on legs, run on. That's my first race fall I believe. Considering it's still broad daylight, it'll be interesting to see what happens to the footwork in the evening.
Karen Donoghue has some funky taping on her calves. That doesn't bode particularly well for a 24-hour race. She's toughing it out because it's our second anniversary. Yeah, we met on the course two years ago and have pretty much been inseparable since. We bonded over starting slow whilst walking up a hill. George is jealous but he's just had to learn to live with it. Tony Holland has a foot injury that I cannot pronounce nor spell. Stevie Gildea and I discuss the difficulty of funding when you're from Southern Hemisphere countries. Sadly, none of these folk will get to continue for the full 24 hours today. Or tomorrow even, since that's when their race ends.
|Photo: Peter Diender|
Today Rab and Sharky are attempting to set the Guinness World Record for three-legged running. Have they discussed what happens when they need the bathroom? I am sure that the training runs for this looked rather funny.
In the Perth 100km race my legs were quite sore by halfway and I decided that it was ok because I was running fast and maybe that's what happens when you run fast. So I'm applying the same principles today. The hamstring is a bit tight and I've had IT band problems since February but I am also trail bouncing quite fast. So they are hurting because I am going fast and there is no reason to be concerned about them. It's a snazzy logic. Although I don't know why some people always run fast when you can run slow and make it hurt less. That's some even snazzier logic.
Scott can't run this year because you can't have a runner if you are in the top three (male and female) positions. I have been told that I am currently the overall leader which I find hard to believe considering Jeroen Renes has already lapped me! Turns out that I'd been credited an extra lap because Andy Johns wore his number on the wrong leg and therefore I was credited with one of his. Thanks for that! But even once that is remedied I am in the top six still so can't have a runner.
I trot on. I catch Caroline again who has had a cheeky wee massage. I swear we talk about collecting our head torches on the next lap. And yet when I come round I am so distracted by whatever food I am given that I leave without my head torch. Thankfully I catch Suzie and Terry who are also running without their torches. Rebels. They've also just stopped for tea and beans and Terry's even managed to squeeze in a bike ride. Phenomenal. I feel kind of slack. Suzie is tearing up the trail. I feel like I am sprinting to keep up with the conversation.
BOOM. No, not another fall. Although falling in the dark without a head torch would make more sense. That boom is realising that I've made quite a major error. I've gone for the quiff and single braid today. I need to get my roots done so thought that this would draw less attention to this fact. Not that I colour my hair, I am 100% this naturally blonde. This hairstyle choice is an error because my head torch has a strap down the middle which is why I originally started tying my hair in twin braids. That middle strap is going to destroy my quiff. Runner's drama; there's nothing like it.
I must admit, I am having a jolly good time out here. Welcome back into my life running.
I'm not sure what time it is but I'm guessing around 9pm because it's darkish. When I come round to get my head torch it also starts raining. Quite good timing really. So I collect my rain jacket as well. I'm thinking about taking off my arm warmers or t-shirt because I know I am going to get too hot but in the end I don't bother.
Confession time. I don't know how to tell you all this. So I'll just do it. I have a new rain jacket. I know you're upset! I'm actually a bit upset too! I was going to get one for Christmas. It really was on the top of my list. I started looking early because I knew that there were sales on. And then I found one that would fit in my backpack and it was my size and a good price and I was feeling the comedown after the wedding and so I just went for it. I don't love the colour but it really is more convenient. I still had my black school-girl rain jacket with me for the weekend and it did still come out whilst I was sitting by the fire so I haven't abandoned it completely I promise.
I actually feel much better now that that is off my chest. I have quite a sore chest. It's coughy. Probably too many midgie meals for me. I know the midgies are about. They don't bother me as a runner. Louise Jones and Lorna are netted up in green at the half way drinks station. You looked great girls. Stellar job pumping the tunes too.
This will be my last big lap as there won't be time to pop another one in before midnight. I really like the big laps. The whole thing is easily runnable if that's what you're into. I try to catch up to Andy on this last lap. I tear through the narrow trails and haven't even caught a glimpse of him until the drinks station when Julie Clark points to him at the top of the hill and says that he wants me to catch him. I've been trying! This guy is running himself uncatchable (even though I know he wants me to catch him because my chat is so good). I know my best chance is getting up the gradual incline because he is faster on the downhill than me. And there really is no harm in powering up that incline as there's so much downhill to recover on. But I don't catch him until we are onto the wee grass laps.
With 18 big laps completed, that's me at 72 miles. Two years ago you didn't have to stop at 12 hours. If you snuck in before midnight you could go out for another lap. So I ran 72 miles in 12 hours and 40 minutes. I thought that if I could run 68 miles in 12 hours this year then I would be at the same level of fitness as last time (and that's make me a happy running bunny). So I've exceeded that goal and any more now is a bonus.
These wee grass laps are a good laugh. One stretch of the grass is a bit lumpy and I am constantly putting my feet in the wrong places. I'm possibly faster going up the hill than I am going down because I am scared of the slippery grass. Pauline Walker is in possibly the best onesie I have ever seen. What a stunner. Certainly brightened up the evening. It is crazy fun darting around this field. People seem to have come out of tents from all directions to cheer us on, and around, and up and down. I have to yell at Andy on two occasions; once because I was catching him up the hill and if I passed him then he would be lapped and the second time was because he called out my number to Louise as he completed a lap. While it was very kind of him, I thought that I better not take more than I deserved!
With 15 minutes to go we got given our sticks with our numbers on them. Scott gave me mine which confused the carbohydrates out of George. Now the stick is quite important to me. I have never managed to still be running when I have a had a stick in my hand. It's not that I've got anything against sticks, I just seem to have quite a bit against running at the end of timed races. So I was proud as some very expensive and good-tasting punch when the hooter went and I had to stop RUNNING and push it into the ground. Pushing it into the ground proved more difficult than I expected. I guess I will get better at it with practice.
I finished at the same spot as Heather and gave her a big hug. Heather was consistent the whole way through the race and exceeded her previous racing and training distance. My legs are not functioning as well as they have been for the last 12 hours and I am pleased when I get a seat by the fire. Turns out I've actually taken a 24-hour runners chair which was extremely inconsiderate of me. Thankfully he's happy to stay on his feet while Lorna makes me a Cream of Asparagus soup. Don't knock it until you've tried it people.
I ran 75 miles. Just. It wasn't intentional but it was nice when I found out.
We're rowdy about the fire for a while. There's even a birthday party. Then I get a wee massage, some clean clothes on and placed in a sleeping bag. Two years ago I was such a novice at the running and camping thing that I was uber cold and didn't get any sleep until Dr Andrew Murray placed me in his sauna van. This year I am still cold but at least more prepared than before. It's actually just really hard to get your legs comfortable in a sleeping bag when they are stiff.
There's a party going at the half way drinks station between four and six in the morning. Scott, George and Karen are up there terrorizing runners with rude chants. Scott's pretty chuffed to be up there with them though. He even got to ride a bike. Meanwhile I'm both cold and sweating whilst hugging a fluffy hot water bottle and demolishing a Boost chocolate bar.
People are still running when I emerge from the tent. Celebrations are occurring as runners reach the 100-mile mark. A very special mark indeed. I quite like Carol Martin's celebration of a glass of champagne. There are a bunch of nuns out. Anything goes at an ultra. Mark Leggett, possibly the happiest man in the world, is storming around the trail. Helen must have given him something good for breakfast. I had an instant pasta myself. Saved only for ultras, I look forward to this luxurious treat. I go for the cheesy flavour just to add an extra touch of class. I must thank Lorna very much for making a splendid bowl of pasta. She plays a darn good mother hen.
Speaking of class, I am hank marvin' for a bacon roll so Scott and I decide to nip into Aviemore for a sit-down coffee whilst I consume tomato sauce with a touch of bacon roll. I get the chance to have an exciting chat with Stevie Gildea, his wife and wee daughter in the cafe while they are also hunting out some breakfast. Unfortunately it wasn't Stevie's day in the 24-hour with his body telling him that it had had enough.
Upon returning to camp, even more runners are sporting grins as they reach their goals. I shock the audience by helping take down the our tent. Later I even help Johnny Fling with his. Must have been the guilt from flicking him the fingers during the race.
The runners are onto the small lap now. They've all got an extra burst of something. Carol has revitalized after her champagne and is running around again. I need to find something inside me that will give me the determination to keep going like Viki Williams. Shoes off, quite a bit of pain going on, and yet she's still out there trooping it around. If anyone has a photo of her during this time, please send it to me so that I can put it on my wall to look at it when I need a good boot up my arse. I'm pleased to see that Norrie McNeill is still looping about, having taken Jeroen's advice to take it slow from the start.
With the hooter off, the runners drop. I look up the grass incline to see three casualties sprawled out. Rab and Sharky break the Guinness World Record for the furthest three-legged runners in 24 hours by covering 68 miles. I've offered to do it with Rab next year but he's not sure about my chat.
At the prizegiving I get a large plate and some men's X-Bionic socks. I'm going to try wear them anyway as I can just fold up the toes. Obviously the best prize was the full-on lip-smacker with Bill. You've got to ensure that you are on the start list next year somehow...
|Cheeky peck for Bill|
|And some cheeky fingers for Scott|
Melanie Sinclair is the second lady and I recognise her long legs from the D33. Caroline McKay has driven back to Edinburgh so there's just the two of us to cheese for photos. I think all the course records got broken this year - credit to the good conditions as well as the running bit.
After a nap I attempt a slow jog later in the afternoon before meeting up for an all-you-can-eat Italian meal. And I love to eat. Turns out that the midgies loved to eat me. I am covered and I now look like I've got the chicken pox. Shouldn't have been so relaxed with the insect repellent.
It really is a great race and awesome weekend. I think that the atmosphere and general good mood of everyone involved certainly helps the runners keep smiling and achieve a little bit more than they think they can. On the way to Hayfield on the Saturday morning I told Scott that I didn't really have the distance training in me but I thought that if I stayed in a good mood then I would get through alright. And that's exactly what happened. I also really like my t-shirt thanks boys.
I'm thinking about getting in contact with Sabrina Moran Little to tell her about my win. See if she wants to be friends with me now. My chances are increasing I reckon...
|Glenmore24 Podium Finishers|