As Black Adder would say, “It started off badly (aka a bit too quick), tailed off a bit in the middle, and the less said about the end the better”.
Administration and marshalling of Saturday's 53 mile Milngavie to Tyndrum Highland Fling was superb as usual and a real credit to the organisers – particularly this year with the vast hordes to cater for. The drop bag system is brilliant and worked well for me. Everything within a bigger bag; my core supplies for the leg in a carrier bag, with optional extras to the side. I kept my empties in a carrier bag in my rucksack, so at each change it was simply, bag of empties out, bag of refills in – 30 seconds max, while everyone else was fannying around, sorting out their picnic – felt great!
Sadly, not everything else went so well with my run. The early miles felt very easy. First view of the
Loch from Conic Hill was stunning. Enjoyed the descent of Conic – usually deceptively greasy up-top but all pretty firm today and nothing to trap the unwary. Balmaha in 2:44, 15 minutes up on schedule. Hmm. Time for a reality check? On the other hand….So I forged on ahead. Rowardennan in 4:00 – still ahead of schedule but I certainly hadn’t speeded up any. I was starting to feel a bit queasy by now. My nutritional strategy had been to fuel and hydrate in a one-er, using a sweet tea / apple juice mix. That had worked fine in training but the mistake I made in the race was upping the quantity considerably. I don’t think I was taking on too much liquid as such, but I was probably taking in a higher calorie intake than I could handle during a run. A lesson here – don’t experiment with fundamentals on race day.
I was in denial heading towards Inversnaid – comparing how I felt 2 years ago in the same section, I was worse this time but telling myself I’d come through the bad patch. On the scramble section beyond Inversnaid, I was starting to cramp up, a sure signed that I’d over-cooked the early pace for my fitness level. Jez and Andrew James came past in close formation at about 36 miles. They both looked so comfortable on the terrain, every movement ruthlessly efficient.
Until now, I had kept a lid on things but shortly after the end of the loch, I donated my drop bag contents and, it felt like, most of my stomach lining, to the Way. I’d brought some solids as back-up but I couldn’t force anything else down. I was a spent force by then anyway, so I rapidly concluded that I was calling it a day, and trudged a miserable 4 miles to Bein Glas. So, certainly not the outcome I’d visualised. A few painful lessons along the way but hopefully ones I can learn from and apply next time.
As I didn’t complete the race, I can’t give a full report. I spent many of the early miles with Peter Buchanan of Portobello and boy, can this guy talk! He writes a good game too, so I would recommend his excellent report of the full race on the Porties’ website HERE. Peter over-cooked the early pace but did well to persevere and even produced a PB. Peter’s partner, Yak Hunter, had been psyched-up for the Fling but made the grave error of trusting folk in white coats – a check-up at the dentist resulted in her face being so swollen that she couldn’t run, because the excess weight on her left side would have risked injury or toppling into the loch.
Some great runs on the day from Andrew James and Jez in particular. Well done too to Kate and Debs, and also to the HBT team winners, most of whom were ultra-virgins until Saturday. Of folk I spotted, I belatedly realised the orange vest that had passed was Stuart Mills. Too late to shout "Oi, Stuart, I started off fast and blasted the hills like you said. Now what, eh?" but the strategy did seem to be working for him again! Jack Brown was going well on the climb before Inverarnan but didn't appear in the results, so don't know what happened there. Thomas was going very strongly when he passed me but must have had problems later on. He finished wearing a fleece – perhaps the day hadn’t been warm enough? I’m sure all will be revealed in due course!** Richie looked like a relay runner later on, and pulled off a 20-minute PB, so a careful look at his splits is in order. And John Kynaston had the good sense to turn his race into a training run when things weren’t going quite to plan (now why couldn’t I have thought of that?!), allowing a respectable finish and training plan for June to remain intact.
** Stop Press - All is revealed in Silke's Blog. Now that was a shocker!!