I wanted a long run this weekend but a Friday night of beer, red wine, white wine and whisky* put paid to any realistic chance of that happening on Saturday. Instead I tried to plan a Sunday run on the WHW but feedback from Marco, Thomas and John was not good - texts from them reported difficult, icy conditions and strong recommendations to stick to the roads. It was only when I received an update text from John last night, telling me he was up at the Rowardennan Hotel for a pint and the paths looked fine, that I decided to go for it.
I'm so glad I did. I drove to Balmaha and ran north for 12 and a half miles (to a few miles before Inversnaid) before turning round and coming back. Conditions were pretty much perfect. No snow, no ice, and a very pleasant temperature to run in. A lot of it was a struggle of course - the first long run of the year on the WHW always is - but I finished quite strongly and was well under 5 hours for the trip, despite a 15 minute stop in the Rowardennan Hotel on the way back for a coffee and a scone. A quick change and then I warmed up nicely with some excellent soup and coffee in the bar at the Oak Tree Inn in Balmaha. I would recommend this place. Today it was absolutely jumping with people who had headed out for a drive and some Sunday lunch.
It's been a decent week for my running. I've managed to get 60 miles done, despite the poor conditions earlier in the week. In case anyone new to ultra running is reading this and starting to panic at this level of mileage, I should quickly add that 60 miles is higher than normal for me. However I'm keen to build a good January base, so will try and keep my mileage high for the couple of weeks if possible. I plan to do the new ultra that George Reid is organising on 3 April along the Deeside Way (for more details see www.deesidewayultra.webnode.com ) and would like to be in decent shape for that, as well as the 2 half marathons in March at Inverness and Alloa. George's race will be a special one for me - it will be my 75th marathon and ultra, and it takes place exactly 20 years to do the day that I took up running.
* despite Friday's excesses, I'm currently sitting 9-8 ahead in the no alcohol challenge... and there are a few work days coming up, so I should have an even better lead by next weekend. Will update in due course...