Saturday 13 June
I had decided that today would be my last hard run before the WHW race. There was a 10k on in Milngavie, organised by Marco’s club, Garscube Harriers, so I decided to go for it and use it as my last hard run. There were 2 main reasons for this: to sample the atmosphere of Milngavie one week before the WHW race, and to repeat my preparation from 2003, which was the year that I finished under 22 hours for the first time.
Allybea was driving down to Kilmarnock to see her mum and dad, so rather than take 2 cars all the way to Ayrshire I decided that I would just get the train to Milngavie, and then take the train down to Kilmarnock after the race. The first sign that this might be a problem came at Dunblane station. I explained to the Scotrail ticket man that I wanted to travel from Dunblane to Glasgow Queen Street, then on to Milngavie, then back to Queen Street, then walk to Glasgow Central, then finally get a train to Kilmarnock. I would not be coming back by train, as I would get a lift from Allybea. What was the best ticket I could buy? Oh, and before he answered, he might want to take account of the fact that I had a half price voucher that I wanted to use.
It was not a surprise to find out he had no idea of the best ticket. He eventually sold me a return from Dunblane to Kilmarnock, with my half price discount, but forgot to give me a ticket for Queen Street to Milngavie and back. As the queue was getting longer and longer, and a train was about to arrive, I settled for this and got my Milngavie ticket from the guard on the train.
I had more hassle when I arrived and registered for the race. Having paid my £8, I asked the girl at registration if there was somewhere I could leave my bag. “No, I don’t think so” I was told. “Can you not leave it in your car?” “No, I don’t have my car with me - I came in the train”, I said. “Do you not have any mates you could leave it with?” “No, I don’t have any mates”. She shrugged her shoulders and gave me a look which left me in no doubt it was my problem, not hers. Fortunately at that moment JB appeared,with whom I used to run at lunchtime when I worked in Glasgow. He was going to be doing the results and suggested I leave my bag in the results room, beside him. So, problem solved. I still needed to get changed behind an ice cream van as there didn’t seem to be anywhere else.
The race began at 11.30am from the centre of the Highland Games field. I started off at a steady pace and worked away solidly in the heat. At about the half way point I passed Graeme Reid, and managed to stay in front of him for the rest of the route. The last few kilometres up the hills were hard work, but I finished in a time of 41.39, which I was perfectly happy with. It had not been easy, but was exactly the session I had hoped for. Now on to my taper!
The journey from Milngavie to Kilmarnock was a nightmare. When I reached Central Station I realised that there were no trains to Kilmarnock, due to engineering works. It would have been nice to have been told that earlier on when I bought my ticket. Instead I had to get a train to Barrhead then change to a rail replacement bus – the only problem was that these buses were only running every hour, so I had to sit on a wall outside Barrhead station for about 45 minutes before the bus was ready to leave. It was roasting and I had no sun cream on. I finally arrived in Kilmarnock at 5.40pm, a full 4 hours after setting out for the train in Milngavie. What a nightmare. Next time I’ll be ignoring the green agenda and taking my car.
Sunday 14 June
I had a quiet and relaxing day today. I slept until 10 am, clearly needing the extra sleep after my busy week at work. After a leisurely breakfast, I took Lucy (Dog No 3) for an hour’s walk in the grounds around Braco castle, including a swim in the river. She loved it. Then in the early evening I went to Amanda for my pre race massage. My quads and calves were a bit tight and it was sore when she got right into them, but generally I think my body is in reasonably good shape,and I am feeling relaxed. Both Allybea and I are determined to enjoy the whole experience of this year’s race, trying hard to remain calm and not get too worked up about things. Hopefully that will continue throughout the week.
Monday 15 June
Back at work today. Things were going fine until I had a meeting with someone at 10.00. Imagine my horror when, after making the introductions, he said "Sorry, I've been feeling completely lousy all weekend (cough), think I'm getting back to normal (cough cough), feeling at least 80% which is 75% than I was feeling yesterday (splutter splutter cough spit)". A look of horror crossed my face and I spent the entire meeting trying to stay out of his line of breathing. I almost fell out of the meeting room door at one stage, so far away from him I had moved. I can't remember much about the meeting at all, but I do remember that as soon as it was finished I rushed to the toilet, washed my hands at least 3 times, and put on some of that disinfectant gel intended to prevent the spread of swine flu.
For the next hour or so I was convinced I was coming down with the mother and father of all colds, probably a virus, and that there was no way I would be fit for Saturday. At lunchtime I went out for an easy run (my second last before the race), and I was relieved to feel, er, normal. In fact I would almost say I felt good. I had an easy 4 mile trot through the streets of Edinburgh, and that helped to calm me down.
The rest of the day was fairly uneventful. I arrived home from work at about half 7, had some tea, took the dogs for a short walk, then relaxed in the bath for half an hour. I made it to bed by 10.30, and slept like a log.
Tuesday 16 June
A rest day today (at least in terms of running) although very busy at work. That was undoubtedly a good thing, as I had no time at all to worry about getting / being ill or having sore legs, feet, knees or other parts of my body. My stomach was a bit sore, but that was because I had drunk too much coffee today at all my meetings. As I write this it is 6.50 and I am about to leave the office for the long journey back to Perthshire. Allybea is going out at the school show and has left a voicemail on my phone, telling me that I'll need to pick up some tea from Sainsburys on the way back home. I better choose something easy and quick to cook, high in carbohydrates: perhaps a pizza or a couple of scotch eggs?
Update: just as I left the office Mr Race Director phoned, so it was good to have a quick chat with him. And I went for the sensible option for tea – ravioli with smoked salmon. Yum.
Wednesday 17 June
At a sportscotland meeting in the morning, then back to the office for a quick check of my emails before heading across Edinburgh to meet a number of the WHW runners for some lunch. It was great to catch up with everyone – the excitement is certainly starting to build. This was my last day in the office, so I finished quite late then headed out for my last pre race run, a 4 mile jog round the centre of Edinburgh. To be honest it was a bit of a waste of time, and I might have been better not bothering at all. I felt like I was going through the motions and my legs felt a bit heavy after a few really busy days. Still, I followed my plan and did it, with no ill effects. The next time I run will be from Milngavie station, early on Saturday morning. Can’t wait!