It was a bit misted over in Edinburgh on Sunday morning and we were a bit disappointed because it wasn't sunny but thought it would probably be good weather for running anyway.
Ahaha! 1 hour later in Fife the sun was beating down with only the odd tiny cloud shading the sun slightly for less than a minute. We had no hats, no sunscreen, we were going to get our hides tanned! After yesterday's experience with collapsing Chris at the Haddington half I resolved to take it sensibly up the first long drag right up to the summit of West Lomond.
This is really a very cruel start because immediately you summit its time to turn around and go pretty much all the way back down again, but contouring down on uneven, ankle-twisting trods to the entrance of the woods heading towards East Lomond. I took my own sweet time doing this being a. not a good descender and b. having a shoogily knee and ankle on the left side which was taking all the strain as it was my lower side.
Once I was back in the woods I picked up again though. This is really enjoyable track and trail and it was dark and damp and the air was cool which was a lovely relief from the burning old sun. I took a few bods coming along here and then again when we turned right up a small, muddy path through the trees. This bit up to some monument on the hillside might be one of my favourite bits of running. The path is uphill but not at all steep and on either side there are pines so the air smells heavenly. There were huge colourful mushrooms scattered about on the ground.
I felt good and knew things would get more difficult once I was further up the hill and there was no more shade so I made the best of it.
Running up to East Lomond is an opportunity to find out how things are panning out at the sharp end of the race. I saw Peter looking very cheerful come galloping back along the path, a good sign... and a procession of folk before and after him. Some cheerful, some focused and working hard, a lot suffering in the heat. On the way up East Lomond I saw a bunch of Fife Ladies, who I'd started out just behind, not so very far ahead, but they were descending well and I was running out of steam and I knew I wouldn't be catching them up. Which was good in a way, because I was under very little pressure.
I kept it going as best I could, running as much as I was able ( quite a lot of people were walking by now - it really was hot!). I was honoured at what I think is called "Maiden Castle" and is really a hump of lumpy reed grass, to get supported by Richie Cunningham, King of the West Highland Way and help myself to his jelly babies. They kept me going for the last short but hard bit, over more lumpy grass and then up the hard rocky track back to West Lomond. I really didn't feel like climbing West Lomond again. "But I've already CLIMBED it" I whined inside. I did think that I could just have a seat, but then reasoned that I wouldn't feel better right away and I would still then have to climb the bloody thing to get to the end. So I confess I then pretended I was on Everest climbing up to the summit ridge and I could then understand why it was so hot and so hard and I was breathing so hard. It seemed to take forever.
At the top there were encouraging marshalls and then there was a short grassy run down to the death-slide, aka bum-slide. Even climbing over the fence to the top of this thing I nearly took a header because the ground was so steep. This year, resigned to falling over anyway, I just got on my bum right away and set off like a rocket - my version of events - Peter was filming me with his camera however and, deflatingly, says - "you were going quite slow". It felt fast. And easy - the only problem really was steering round the thistles. I didn't steer round all of them - and then landing on flatter bits of ground was quite sore so I hopped back on my feet for a while, then taking once again to my back-side.
Then there was a nice gentle run through the field amid the happy sheep to the finish line!
I didn't remember this race being just quite such an epic. Still highly recommended to all and sundry. I was disappointed not to see any other Porties there as we have a growing number of people that will go in the hills.
We got a chance to chat to Richie C. at the end who is now on the taper for the Ultra Tour de Mont Blanc. Our friend Ben says the CCC which is half of the ultra tour is the hardest thing he's ever done. (And then tries to persuade us to sign up for it!) We agreed that a nicer way to do it might be over the course of 4 days and only running during the day.
We also got a chance to catch up with Melanie Sinclair, new Carnegie friend from the Tour of Fife, who was in the river like a shot. She's a bit of a water baby.
Also a nice man from Beacon Runners came up and introduced himself and said he read my blog! But I had the pre-race anxiety and promptly forgot his name again. Maybe I'll be able to work it out from the results. Thanks anyway, and for the support on the way round.