I had a crap run on Saturday at the Highland Fling. I finished in 11 hours 47 minutes, my worst time out of the 5 races. I didn't feel good for most of the race, being sick a lot in the early stages, but I managed to keep it together reasonably well until the top of Loch Lomond. Then the wheels fell off. I had cramp, was sick, bored, scunnered, fed up, and wanted to pack it in. It was a horribly long last 15 miles. But I got there in the end - although I don't think I looked at my best when I came over the line or for the rest of the evening.
On Saturday afternoon and night I had more or less resigned myself to withdrawing from this year's WHW race. I've found every long run a struggle this year and it hasn't been enjoyable. "Covering old ground slower than before" was a perfect description from Geraldine. It's not a great place to be; I think the volume of ultras over the last couple of years has probably taken its toll on my body. So what should I do? I resolved to make no firm decision before Wednesday, but to think things through in some detail before deciding.
In the few days since Saturday I've spoken to a few people about it and have now reached my decision: I'm going to do the WHW race. I think I have to accept it won't be my fastest time, but I'm sure that I'm still capable of getting to FW in 24 hours or so, which would be fine. The decision was helped by the reaction of some of the guys at the sportscotland board meeting earlier today. They were hugely complementary about the fact I had just run 53 miles, and the time was pretty irrelevant from their point of view. I suspect we all get a bit caught up in all the great times from others in the race and it diminishes the sense of achievement in finishing - but at the end of the day we all have to set our own targets and goals. As I said last year before the WHW race - it's my race, no-one elses.
There is also the Dario factor. Dario's death continues to cast a long shadow for many of us who knew him well, and has certainly made it harder for me to find the motivation to push myself through tough events like this. Last year, and the year before, and the year before that, I would have been on the phone to Dario after my Fling run, talking it through in detail, analysing the various stages, and looking for things I could have done differently. By the end of the call everything would have been sorted out and I would have been back on track, keen and ready to take on the WHW challenge. I miss these chats, and know others do too. But I think Dario would have wanted me to run this year's race, and would have encouraged me to do so.
So, assuming my body doesn't give up on me, I'll be lining up again at the underpass at Milngavie Station just before 1.00 am on 19 June. And hopefully I'll be bringing home my 9th goblet on the Sunday afternoon.