It is only 2 weeks until 'The Highland Fling' (a 53 mile race along the West Highland Way from Milngavie to Tyndrum) and 10 weeks until the full WHW race. That means I need to get some decent long runs in, so yesterday I decided to do the 35 miles from Bridge of Orchy to Fort William. Much to my delight my wife allybea very kindly offered to come along to provide support and backup. As we set off for Bridge of O conditions for running looked quite good, although there was a chill in the air for most of the day and the hills were covered in snow.
At Bridge of Orchy I was getting ready in the car park and spotted WHW legend and ex record holder Kate Jenkins heading through Bridge of Orchy and up the hill towards Inveroran. It turned out Kate had started at Tyndrum and was running to FW with her dog Ben. We must have been running at fairly similar paces throughout - allybea saw her at most of the stopping points and reckoned she was between 5 and 10 minutes in front. I finally caught up with her at the Braveheart carpark, just before FW.
In general my run went very well. I reached Kingshouse in 2 hours 3 minutes, despite a lot of faffing about in the first few miles when I changed out of my tracksters and into my shorts, put my jacket on then took it off again, put on my buff then took it off again, and so on. The only other problem in this section was a bout of sickness immediately after taking a salt capsule. This has happened a few times now, so I think I'm going to ditch the capsules and try something like salty crisps instead.
At Kingshouse I stopped for 9 minutes for a quick cup of allybea's excellent home-made soup, then headed off to Kinlochleven. I arrived at Kinlochleven in 3 hours 59 mins, had a 10 minute break for some more soup and a Muller rice, then left for Lundavra. I made good time on this section - I think I arrived at Lundavra after about 5 hours 36 mins then stopped for a drink of chocolate milk, before setting off for the final 7 miles. I covered this last bit in 1 hour 12 minutes (what would I give to run at that pace in the race?) and arrived at FW leisure centre after a total of 6 hours 51 mins. I was quite pleased with that, particularly as I felt quite comfortable throughout and didn't ever feel I was pushing too hard. And my legs feel ok today, another positive sign.
We gave Kate a lift back to Tyndrum and had the usual superb fish supper from the Good Food Stop. All in all it was a first class day's running, with a few useful lessons/reminders:
1. It is a lot easier doing these long runs when someone is there to support you. Not only does it save you carrying all your food and spare kit, but it is great to have the company.
2. I need to ditch the Succeed capsules. There is no point in taking something that makes me sick. I'll just need to make sure I get enough salt from my food and drink.
3. Chocolate milk is really good. I'm going to use it in the Fling and the WHW race.
4. Although it can be a pain stopping to put on a jacket or take it off, it is worthwhile taking the time to do it - it means my body temperature stays at the right level, so I don't get too hot or too cold. However I need to take a bit more effort atthe beginning to set off wearing appropriate clothing.
5. Although it is nice to have company, there are definitely benefits to running alone rather than part of a group. When you are running on your own you can do your own thing: if you think the pace is too fast then you slow down; if you think it is too slow then you speed up; if you need to stop to go to the toilet then you just stop.
Well done to all those who did the London Marathon today. Hayley Haining from Kilbarchan had a great run, setting a new PB of 2 hours 29 minutes. Unfortunately she finished about 40 seconds behind Liz Yelling, so will probably miss out on Olympic selection. It would all be different of course if there was a Scottish team in the Olympics. Of the WHW family (or those who aspire to be in the family), I've noticed from the early results that Marco did 2.48, Neal did 3.10 and Debs 3.31. Brilliant performances from all 3, and many congratulations to them all. I almost wish I had been doing it myself...