With training not going quite as envisaged, it was touch and go whether I would do the Fling.
I needed to check my fitness, the Highland Fling would provide a benchmark and let me know whether to take on the DC110 or not.
It's two years since I last ran the Fling, I missed last year through a calf injury. Once again it was last minute dot com, frantically packing and making up drop bags on Thursday evening. No day off work Friday, I was hoping to leave mid afternoon, collect Sky and Lynne on the way and arrive Milngavie mid evening. In reality, we didn't clear the notorious Aberdeen traffic till well after six and with stopping for a bite to eat I missed registration at the Burnbrae Restaurant by 15 minutes. Ah well, no long lie and sauntering up to race briefing for me, I'd have to register in the morning.
The alarm sounded at four, I got up and started to prepare for the day. Oops, in my haste to pack I completely forgot about breakfast. I had to settle for three cold cheese and onion rolls, I didn't feel too great, the onion would try to reappear later on.
Registration in the rain, number and chip on, farewell to Lynne and Skye who sorted drop bag dropping, I made my way to the "over 12 hours section". Stomach pains meant a last minute visit to the portaloo, this was going to be the trend today. With seconds to go I was at the very back of race start.
Johnny Fling let the third group go to the tune of Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond, a brilliant send off for my fourth Fling. It was good to be back and running on the WHW. After a few miles the rain stopped, I took off my waterproof and packed it away for the rest of the day. Once settled down I switched on the Mio Link, no watch was worn for the race. I concentrated on keeping my heart rate in the amber zone, if it changed to purple I would slow down till it dropped into the amber again. Now I'm not sure if this is how I'm supposed to run by heart rate but it did seem to keep me in check at the start of the race.
Karen Donoghue passed running in the opposite direction, a quick hello, see you in a few weeks.
The DC110 is getting close.
Drymen came and went, soon it would be conic. The Mio did a great job through the forest, I was fixated on the LED read out and making sure I kept in the amber zone until the hill. It zoomed right into the red for the climb, I switched it off at this point to save battery power.
Antonia passed by, I said hello and wondered why she was taking it very easy today, all became clear, she was accompanying Scott for the race. I peaked the hill with an Irish runner, over especially for the race. Loch Lomond was as beautiful as ever before the descent to Balmaha. Good to see George Reid here, a quick hello then time for food.
Drop bag, jam and peanut butter sarny, two bites and I'm done. Milkshake, pocket coke and go, food problems already. I was on my way to Rowardennan with a group of runners. I switched on the Mio, red zone. It didn't feel like red, I was just running as normal. I had a choice, back off and try to get the zone into amber or switch it off. I switched it off, probably wrong to do this but I'm still learning.
I was running along quite happily, then fell down, flat on my face. The trail wasn't even technical there, a few runners came to my aid but I wasn't hurt, apart from my pride, I thanked them and ran on.
Rowardennan checkpoint, I binned the sarny. A boiled egg and milk shake and that was it. Thanks to the sharp eyed marshal that offered to clean up my hand, I declined, it waited till the end. Even though I wasn't eating I spent too much time in checkpoints.
Off I went towards Inversnaid but I wasn't right, I stopped and walked with stomach cramps. I was about a mile out of Rowardennan and considered turning back. Nope, I'll just have to try and make it to the next checkpoint. So the remainder of this section consisted of me looking for a possible toilet stop, the trail was busy with runners and walkers. I had to take it easy, even on the downhill section.
Inversnaid, there was a portaloo, testament to the organisation. I drank a tin of Starbucks and had to wait a good while to use the amenities. This was a long stop but I left the checkpoint in good shape, then a few hundred yards along the trail fell flat on my face again, this time right in front of a couple of walkers. Embarrassed, I dusted myself down and carried on, annoyed at falling twice.
I hooked up with David Meldrum for the technical section. David's good company and pace suited me just fine, Dario's post soon came and went, we were well on our way to the next checkpoint. There was trail of runners led by David, no one was passing, testament to the steady pace held all the way to Bienglas Farm.
Starbucks, coke, pocket a bag of skittles then off on the final leg. I phoned Lynne and Skye who just passed the entrance to Bienglas Farm. No problem, told them I'd see them at the finish. I was on this section with various runners, just ticking along nicely, up onto the track leading to Crianlarich.
Stomach cramps, again, for goodness sake. There was nothing else to do but run to the forest, the roller coaster section. I started running and didn't stop, all the way through a dry cow poo alley, walked the uphill's and ran the downhill's. Safely escorted across the road, thanks marshals, only four miles to go and I was going to run most of it, partly because I had energy and partly because I still felt queezy.
There was a super hero ahead. It was spiderman, struggling to see through his hood in the low sun. "Well done Spidey", we only had two miles to go. Through the big gate then bagpipes, the sound of the end of the Highland Fling. I rounded the corner and ran up the best finish straight in the world, high fiving all the way to Lynne and Skye at the finish line.
What can I say that hasn't been said already. Top notch organisation, registration, marshalling, checkpoints, finish straight, medal, soup, beer, goody bag and tee shirt. John Duncan, marshals, helpers and volunteers - take a bow, thank you for putting on a brilliant race.
Wed 2, Sat 10. Weekly total 12 miles.