Friday, January 15, 2010

Highlights of 2009 Part 1 - Kaz does the Highland Fling

I wrote this blog post on the Strathearn Harriers blog after I had done the race as I wanted a record of it and didn't have a blog myself. I said at the time it was because it may be the only ultra I ever do, but I know myself better than that and once my blisters had healed and my legs let me go down stairs without pulling the banister off the wall I started thinking - hmm, bet I could go faster as I was comfortable for most of the way and I learnt so much. I loved the journey of both the training and the run itself. There are so many wonderful routes in amazing scenery around the world and I can feel myself plotting and planning for once little babba-bean is born. there will different logistics to take into consideration once babba arrives, but that will be half the fun I'm sure.

I ended up raising £1400 fo Mary's meals which feeds children in poor countries around the world for about £5/year in schools and so gives them an education as well as a full belly.

2.50am and the alarm goes off! Thank goodness as I had simply been lying in bed awake aware of every single phantom pain imagineable.

Mum and dad arrived to be taxi for the day and we were on our way to Milngavie by 4am. To be honest, it all felt a bit surreal as the enforced back off from runnng during my taper made it feel so distant.

Fortunately we were able to get parked easily and as us ladies set off at 6am the queue for the loos wasn't too bad. It was nice to see a few familiar faces from recce runs and helped to make it feel real. Before I was able to panick, I got into my kit, had a quick stretch and lined up at the 13 hours estimated time group.

Milgavie - Beech Tree Inn

6am and the whistle blue. Wow we were off. Now I was running I felt much better. This was quite a strange leg as there were so many people and I have been used to running on my own. I was very worried about going off too fast, but I felt comfortable and so just trotted on until I hit my first checkpoint for comparing times. I was a little faster, but nothing major. By the time I reached 'Team Kaz' as we nicknamed it, the crowds had thinned and I was trotting along with a few ladies who had done loads of Ultras. They were really nice and it was lovely to have a chin wag. I forced down my first juice just before the Inn so that I could swop my empty with Al. A cheery hello and onto my next stage.

BTInn - Parking above Drymen.

My overridding memories of this leg was chatting to Ellen for quite a while; beginning to fully realise I was running the Fling and still feeling apprehensive about mashing my legs too early. I walked a few hills but my legs felt pretty good and as they were warmed up now I started to gently jog more of the hills. I reached 'team Kaz' a little ahead of schedule which took the pressure off my quick shoe change. A quick stretch and I was off to Conic Hill. Woo hoo!

CH - Balmaha

I really enjoyed the run up the hill and was able to take it at a comfortable pace - slightly less agressively than my last training run as my hamstrings had sufferred as a consequence. It was as I climbed the hill feeling r
elatively gazelle like that the first elite men came belting past and
firmly put my grandiose image of myself to bed!.

My Goodness - unbelievable - it was as if the hill wasn't even there! Coming down was a belter and I was doubly glad I had my innovates on. It is great fun that descent and before I knew it I was in the car park at Balmaha, changing into shorts and T-shirt!

B - Rowardennan

I did not enjoy this leg. My quads felt heavy and I felt a bit ick. I just kept pushing on and trying to focus on the fact that my hamstrings felt good - I had ralgexed them at B and so I vowed to do the same to my quads at R. I had to wait a wee while to eat as I tried at my scheduled time and my stomach did not appreciate it. By the end of the leg I had a v hot spot on my right toe despite it being taped up. I was glad to get to R in my hoped for time despite feeling all of the above. If I am honest - it was a bit stressful as I didn't expect to feel bad then, but I wasn't backing out now!

R - Bein Glas

It was crazy busy at R. Luckily 'team Kaz' had all routes covered with mum, dad and Al all at different spots to catch me. They were great at this spot as I had to re-tape my toe as well as get food. It must of been hilarious viewing as each of them had their hands full with food, water, clothes or blister kit. Some flat coke and rice cracker smothered in honey went down a treat - not a stomach flip felt. I swopped my t-shirt for my vest as I was really hot and ralgexed my legs like a mad woman in the hope it would help.
Off I headed for 3.5 hours on my own. Not long after I set off I heard, "hello fellow harrier." I turned to see Phil T on my right. It was great to see him and he looked really fresh. His pace was too speedy for me so it was a brief chat, but it was really nice to see a team mate. I was worried this leg would drag, but as it worked out this lovely lady - who was also hoping for sub 13 - and I had a great hike togther up the hills. Our pace was pretty much exactly matched and I felt so much better after the food, ralgex and feeling cooler. We ran together for a lot of this whole leg which really helped as it was great fun to have a good old gossip. Unfortunately she headed on just as we dropped down to BG, as, well .... I wished to inspect a nearby bush. My left knee had started to niggle over the whole of this leg, but I really started to feel it as I had to descend. That all said and done I arrived at BG at my earliest hoped for time.

BG - Carmyle Cottage

I arrived to find my mate Morna had joined 'team Kaz'. It was such a boost. I was really quite hungry here, but I poss ate a bit too much as it sat in my tum and caused yucky cramping for quite a wee while. That was not the worst thing about this leg. I knew it would be tough as there is quite alot of up, however my legs were OK with those. It was down and flat that was a nightmare. My knee was screaming whenever I ran. It was SO frustrating because my legs wanted to run but it was so sore. I was having to grit my teeth and force my self to run for 50 or 100 steps. I did have a crisis of confidence because I knew I needed painkillers and I didn't have any. I will admit to having a little whimper and then, like an 'Angel sent down from Heaven above' Liz Tipping appeared in front of me. That wonderful woman with her goody bag of pills pumped me with paracetamol, anti nausea and anti inflammatory pills. It turns out that despite being a bit pucky after all that food it meant I could tolerated the drugs. As I hobbled away from Liz, Colin and Ally I saw Ian was just arriving. Like ships passing we didn't get a chance to say hello but it was good to see him none the less. Within 5 mins or so the edge had been taken off the pain and after 10mins my confidence had been restored - I could carry on. V frustrating though as I had lost a bit of time on that lg as I knew I could have run more without the pain.

CC - Bridge before Kirkton Farm

I grabbed coke and rice crackers from Al to go into my bag as I couldn't face anything yet, ice sprayed my knee and headed off. This was a good leg as the pain gradually receded to a dull ache and I think the pills must have eased all my other niggles too. The mud past the stinky farm was pretty solid so that was a pleasant surprise and I really like the leg through the forrest as it is 'Narnia' pretty.
The worst thing about this leg: tripping over a rock and so v nearly going for burton. Despite preventing a full on face plant I did managed to burst my blister on my right toe. 46 miles and my first sweary word burst forth from my lips! I even stomped my foot in high dudgeon! Thank goodness I was on my own. I was just so cross as I had removed my knee pain and the my blister which had been fine threatened my race. I have to admit I was so cross I stomped on banging my foot firmly on the ground with each step telling it (yes, out loud) that: "you are not going to hurt, you stupid toe". Well it seemed to listen because after a couple of mins and a bit of wiggling my toe into a better position in my shoe it was fine.
The best thing about this leg: seeing Ali Manners running up the hill in the forest to meet me for a wee run to the bridge. Thank you so much Ali, it was such a lovely boost.

Bridge - Tyndrum

A quick water and ice spray of knee and off. Wow! I am going to do it! Just after leavng Al, Ali and Morna the heavens opened, but fortunately it didn't get too cold. As I came up to the campsite I could see someone filming, and as there was no one behind me I realised it was me being filmed. I was a bit confused and then realised Colin had driven up from his previous spot with Liz Tipping and Ali B. He too ran along with me for a wee stretch as I took on my last juice to get me through the last 2.5 miles. I nearly beat 'team Kaz' to where you cross the road but was able to get a last ice spray and just kept pushing on. I was overjoyed to be still running most of the time and even the last litle drumlins before Tyndrum didn't seem too undulating. Through the forrest and then that last final straw - sorry stretch - to the white cottages. My heart was absolutely pounding, but I managed a last push to finish strongly.

Oh My Goodness! I had done it in 12 hours 11 mins and 53 secs - well under 13 hours! I can't tell you how proud I am of myself! To think I was so ill a few years ago that somedays I didn't have enough energy to get out of bed... means alot. In addition, to know I have raised enough money to feed 1.5 children per mile for a year (£380) so far makes all the pain I am in today worthwhile, and believe you me I am in pain - my blister had burst - atleast that rock has saved me another trip to the hospital to get it aspirated like I had to do 3 weeks ago!

The finish was great; loads of commaradarie and congratulating of people you had run with at various stretches; a great goody bag (champagne, medal, bottomless coffee cup for the Good Food Cafe, beer, lip salve); free massages and, although we didn't stay, a ceilidh. A huge well done to Phil T and Ian B. Just knowing you guys have been going through the same training and racing pain too has helped me to keep pushing on.

I do apologise if this post is deadly dull and a bit too much, however it may be the only ultramarathon I ever do so it will be nice to have a record of it. Who knows, it may even inspire someone else to push their boundaries.

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