Monday, 6 August 2012

Devil o the Highlands 2012

Well, I did it! Another year, another Devil. And seems my worries with regards to my training were unfounded...

My parents, Derek and I went up to Tyndrum on the Friday afternoon. We stayed at the Lodge Hotel which I was pleased to see was right next to the start line! Had a nice meal in the bar and then, as per tradition, a bag of chips afterwards (excellent chips, a must everytime we are in Tyndrum!). I went to sleep about 10.30pm and slept soundly until 4.30am. When I woke I could hear the cars starting to arrive at the Green Welly stop. The hotel owner had kindly left me a breakfast out the night before, and I just needed to heat up my porridge, so I had a good breakfast too. After my tossing and turning whilst ill the night before the Fling I had been worried I wouldn't sleep before the Devil but it was a huge confidence boost to wake feeling quite fresh. I packed my stuff and met Richard, who was "sharing" my support crew. We had a chat and started off the race together.

 It was such a nice morning and I started feeling really good. The run to BoO was fun. Richard and I chatted to a few other runners which helped the time pass and before I knew it we were at BoO, greeted by plenty of midges! I had forgotten how bad they can be, there aren't any in England! We didn't stop here as I thought it would be nicer for my support crew to have a wee lie in and breakfast before meeting me. Got through and headed up the hill at about 7.05am. Now, this was really the point I think I started putting myself at an advantage. I had a roll and jam on the way up the hill. I know 7miles is perhaps a bit early to start eating in a race (especially as I only had breakfast 2 hours ago!!) but I was feeling a bit peckish. This eating was something I kept up through the whole day and something I really put my good time down to. Coming down into Inveroran I was chatting to a man who had fallen on this section last year. He was going really slowly and was obviously really conscious of falling was making me a bit paranoid too! Going over Rannoch Moor Richard and I were in a massive group, which was really nice. I had lots of water and some sweets here and kept on running towards the Scottish flags at the top! Thanks so much to the ladies with the flags handing out the jelly babies. I absolutely love the photo one of them took!

Arrived in Glencoe at the back of 9am and was happy to see my support crew waiting for us. Had a sandwich and some fruit here plus lots of was really starting to get hot. I was there for about 10mins and my dad ran the next section with us which was fun. Got to the bottom of the Devil's staircase where my dad rejoined my mum and Derek joined Richard and I for the next part. I put on lots of suncream here then continued on my merry way. I was feeling great going up the staircase and ended up pushing ahead of Richard, who was struggling a bit with the heat. He made it clear he wanted me to push on but I felt a bit sad we wouldn't be running together anymore. Derek and I overtook a few people on the way up to the top and then again on the way down the other side. I don't like overtaking people and always make sure I at least say hi, how you doing or something when I do. I ate some more sandwiches and lots of water and lucozade on the way down. I was a wee bit unsteady on my feet just because of the rough ground but Derek told me to save my muscles and not to hold back too much on the I ended up flying down into Kinlochleven and getting a stitch!!! I got there about 11.20am which was way faster than I had intended. In fact, about an hour beforehand I had said to Derek that someone’s estimation of me reaching Kinloch by 11.20am was insane...Something I should point out is that I don’t wear a watch running at all and only really ask for the time at checkpoints, so that was sheer coincidence!!

I arrived before my crew had noticed me and 2 other support crew very kindly gave me water despite my insistence that I’d just wait for them to walk up the road. So if you ever read this, thanks very much to the man and woman in the orange and black tops who were supporting and gave me water!! Here I had some pasta and a more fruit plus half a bottle of full fat Coke which I’d been excited about for miles!! I only ever drink it when I’m running and it always tastes fab. I was there for about ten mins and then trotted off again – myself, for the first time. I’d tucked a banana in by bumbag but it came flying out and some kind passers by picked it up for me. In retrospect it was a stupid idea to take the banana...I carried it for about an hour after that then shoved it into my bag and carried it to the end where it pressed into the small of my back for about an hour and a half leaving me with a bruise!! The climb out of Kinloch wasn’t as bad as I’d thought and I felt strong all the way to the top despite the heat. I saw someone had fallen and cut his head. I stopped to offer what I had in my first aid kit but he was being tended to and him and another runner told me to keep going. I hope he was ok. Across the Moor I ate more sandwiches and sweets, plus lots of water and some Irn Bru kindly donated by the wilderness response team. Thanks guys for the support! I was overwhelmed on this section how many walkers gave words of encouragement...more than I can remember any other year. Thanks to everyone who did. One man said to me that I was looking really strong and there were lots of weary looking runners ahead. I didn’t get encouraged by the latter but did feel quite positive that I looked strong, so pushed onwards. I ended up chatting to a lady (I’m sorry I never caught your name) who was running in a blue top. We chatted together for a while about work and races etc which was nice. Had a few photos snapped too by the wilderness team:

Again, I was feeling strong so we ran together for a while but she stopped at one point and wanted to walk, so I pressed on. I never really know how far it is to lundavra but I started to feel a bit weary so put my headphones on for about 20mins. That was 4/5 songs of total motivation and kept me running most of the way to Lundavra, where my support crew were waiting. Again, I stopped for about 5/10mins...mainly to clear stones out my shoe (thanks to John Kynaston for helping me with that!!) and for some more pasta and fruit. I had a wee chat to my mum and dad, but they told me to push on. Derek ran the last part with me as I know I always struggle with this bit. I hoped Richard wasn’t too far behind and found out later he was only 20 or so minutes behind.

 I was still running the downhills and flats but walking more and more of the uphills. I was also losing my appetite though still really thirsy...or maybe I was just full up from eating so much!!! I stuck to lucozade from now on (tried some sweets but they made me feel a bit sick) and kept on running when I could. Derek and I chatted about stuff and the time did fly past, though I could feel myself getting a bit more tired and more negative. Derek said he was surprised how negative I became within the last 3 miles...I’m not sure how psychological that is, I’m always dreading the last part of this race. My legs were really ok considering and I wasn’t in any great pain so tried to just “fall” down the fire road to the braveheart car park. But I really wasn’t feeling good at this point and had stopped talking. Derek, my absolute trooper of a husband, was doing his best to cheer me up but he said at one point “man, this is a really long downhill, it goes on forever!” which was NOT the right thing to say at that point in time!!! He did remedy the situation later though by telling me about Boris Johnson getting stuck on a zip wire which made me laugh a lot. Sad as it sounds I think that boosted my spirits a bit and I picked the pace right up. As I did so I got this sharp pain inside my right foot...the formation and bursting of a blister!! Argh! It was really sore but I decided then (after checking it wasn’t anything worse) that what was the point in stopping. So I pulled my laces really tight so my shoes wouldn’t slip and just headed for the finish as fast as I could. Derek later told me he couldn’t believe how much faster I went at the end which made me quite proud! As I approached the finish I asked him to run ahead and make sure my mum and dad were there (I still had no idea what time it was but wanted to make sure they didn’t miss it) but he replied “I can’t!” which elicited a chuckle from those around us. He fell a bit behind me and I pushed onto the finish, finishing the 43miles in 8hours and 30mins.

 I was very happy indeed! 15mins faster than last year. Thanks to the crowds at the end for cheering and thanks so much to all involved in organising it. I had a fab day and will definitely aim for the 10th anniversary run next year. I am a little worried that I won’t be able to beat that time, but I guess there is always room for improvement...and as long as I enjoy the day then I’m happy. Derek did point something out though – he says I stop at checkpoints a lot longer than everyone else which I guess is sort of true! I’d say I had about 30mins of stops in total...I guess if I cut out the stops I could be quicker, but then I wouldn’t have been able to refuel as well so it’s a delicate balance. Plus I like spending time with my support crew, even if it is just some words of encouragement.

Either way, it’s very reassuring to know that I can train for those races even down in the flattest part of the country. It certainly is quality over quantity and I have no doubt that the spin classes have helped my quads cope with the downhills! My legs have been a bit stiff yesterday and today but they are easing off, so I will swim and spin later this week. Poor Derek’s legs are shattered but he did so well to run the 2 sections (about 14miles!) he ran when he’s not run in years! I really appreciated the company, and a huge thanks to my support crew (Derek and my parents). They mean the world to me, they are so supportive and I love spending time with them like this. All in all a fab day...I hope everyone who ran enjoyed it as much as I did (:


Silke said...

Hi Xtine. Well done on a great run and new PB. Missed you at the start and never saw you at the finish. I was probably too late as I took longer than on my first Devils! Just made it to the prizegiving in time and then just had to sit down. Sorry about that. Hope to catch up at another race. Enjoy your result!

Silke said...

Well done again on your run! Thought I had left a comment already but it did not appear. So here is another one! :-) Sorry I missed you at the start and obviously was far too slow to see you during the race. Maybe catch up next year at the Fling?!