No 3 son is 10 today. He's a Liverpool supporter but has never seen them live, so as a special birthday treat we are going to Anfield tomorrow for the Liverpool v Manchester City game. He's really excited about it. John K was able to get tickets for us from his Liverpool contacts, which was absolutely fantastic. I'm just disappointed that Liverpool lost to Chelsea on Wednesday in the Champions League semi-final, as it might mean the atmosphere will be a bit flat - although I'm sure it won't detract in any way from No 3 son's enjoyment, or from the whole experience. Let's hope they cap a great day with a home win!
I was thinking earlier on about what I was doing in 1998. At the time we stayed in Troon, I ran with Troon Tortoises, and I worked in Glasgow. I was just about to attempt the West Highland Way race for the first time, just 6 weeks after the birth of No 3 son. In hindsight that was not great timing. I was nowhere near as well prepared as I am now, and dropped out at Tyndrum after 53 miles. Despite the disappointment I felt at the time it was still a great experience, an experience which set me up well for successful attempts in future years. It also gave me a great base for the rest of the year, and I ran PBs at both 5k and the marathon (17.41 and 2.56 respectively) in September of that year. Today these remain my best times for both distances.
The WHW race experience today is considerably different from 1998. In 1998 the race was organised by Jim Stewart, and had only 20 finishers - although the 20 did include Adrian Stott, Jim Drummond, Alan Kay, Jim Robertson and Pauline Walker who are all still competing today. Dario was a competitor rather than organiser, although still a great source of advice. There was no internet and no blogs, so almost all the training tended to be done on your own, without the chance to share experiences with and learn from other competitors - other than speaking to Dario on the phone. The race started at 3am, not 1am, which changed the whole way you needed to approach it. The route was rougher in quite a few places, particularly the section before Inversnaid where the path was not as well developed, and the section between Beinglas and Derrydarroch where you had to negotiate the riverbank for a short section. And fewer people had heard of the race, or knew anyone who had completed it.
Since 1998 we've moved house twice and I've changed job 4 times, with spells working in London, Edinburgh and Glasgow. Back then the 2 older boys were not even teenagers; now they are adults. Our old dog, Isla, was just a puppy. Despite the fact I've changed my first claim running club twice (from Troon Tortoises to Central to Strathearn Harriers), running remains one of the 'constants' over the last 10 years. I still enjoy it, still go to a lot of the same races and still see a lot of the same people, most of whom have slowed down a bit, but not by too much. The great camaraderie of the sport was there in 1998 and remains one of the things I love about running today, particularly the camaraderie amongst the ultra running community.
So what about my own running this week? Not much to report, to be honest. I did an easy 4 mile run on Tuesday and another easy 4 on Thursday, but both times I felt a bit stiff after last weekend's Fling, particularly around my groin. I decided to take it easy this week and make sure I recover properly. I'll try and do a steady run later this afternoon, then start to think about the Troon 10k on Wednesday night.