I’d had a good solid start to the year’s training, getting in more miles/time on feet/elevation than last year & with the fact that i’d done the Fling last year meant i was fairly confident i could get a PB. I had been suffering from certain aches & pains for a while (back/neck & groin) & had visited the Physio a good few times to try & reduce any problems, but i’ve learn’t that one of the best things you can do to help yourself is to be mentally positive & when you need to dig deep, being able to draw on past experiences can get you through anything.
Kit for this year was only carry things i might need & don’t carry cross over items, so i only took a waterproof, as the forecast was dire (& thankfully wrong) & didn’t take a windshell. I’d moved on to soft flasks rather the bladder that i used last year, i just find them easier to use & refill, but you just have to work out what works best for you. I added an extra dropbag this year, just to give myself options. I didn’t put much in the way of sweet stuff in them (i planned on grabbing anything sweet left at an aid station if i needed it), but did have 500ml bottles of pre made protein shakes ready to fill one of my soft flasks with, as i’d found this to be helpful in the past (sometimes you get fed up with Electrolyte tabs in water).
Before the start i met up with Frances & Tom from the Cairngorm Runners & we all wished each over luck. Weather wise it was similar to last year with a wee drizzle that didn’t amount to much & within an hour the jacket was off for the day. I managed a quick hello to a few folk at the start & then we were off.
I ran the 1st section with Ross who was giving his Spiderman out outfit it’s longest test yet in preparation for his West Highland Way Race, he’s raising money for a great cause – https://www.justgiving.com/theultraamazingspiderman.
After Drymen i was looking forward to getting some good views from Conic Hill, as last year it was pretty much in the cloud, this year was much clearer & you could see for miles.
I reached Rowardennan ahead of my projected split time & felt much better than i did at that point last year. This was my first dropbag point & as soon i was given my dropbag by the very efficient & friendly marshal’s, i looked at my watch & made a point of giving myself 5 minutes max to stop, i refilled bottles & ate a selection of food & it was time to go. I split the race into sections in my head, so next stop was Inversnaid in 7 miles, it wasn’t 25.8 miles to go, that never entered my head. I knew it would become more technical and less runable for the next while, but to be honest i enjoyed this section more last year as it was a total surprise to me. I reached Inversnaid 37 minutes up on last years time & seeing as though last year i finished in 11:37 & this year i wanted to break 11, it put me in a confident place. The journey to Beinglas was slow going but i knew it would be & i reached it 56 minutes up on last year. I allowed myself an extra 3 minutes (8 total) to eat & drink, then set off for the final section, i was feeling tired but still better than last year & i’d ran this part of the race in a training run a month or so ago, so what could possibly go wrong? Mile 44 that’s what can go wrong! Boom! All of a sudden i went from understandably tired to hit by a train tired! I had zero energy left & it didn’t matter how many times i’d try to run, within a few meters i’d be walking again. This trip to the ‘Hurt Locker’ lasted for the next 4 miles, physically i was ok, i didn’t have an injury, i was stiff & sore but was suffering from no energy & mentally i was taking a bashing! I didn’t have anything sweet with me to give me a boost, as i’d forgotten to pick anything up at Beinglas as i’d planned. I knew i could finish & i knew i’d beat last years time but i also knew if i walked the rest of the way then sub 11 hrs would be well out of the window. So my next plan was to ask anyone that passed me (of which there were plenty!) if they had any chocolate on them? I just needed to get my energy levels up, i tried eating some of the chew bars i had on me but it was like eating sand & i wasn’t getting the fix i needed. Thankfully ‘Ultra Runners’ are extremely helpful and after receiving a couple of options from a couple of runners i slowly got some energy in the form of little kinder sticks of chocolate, these things are small but it must have taken me 20 mins to eat one! My mouth was so dry even though i had things to drink, it was hard work to eat anything. I was past Cow Poo Ally now & heading up to the highest point, the chocolate started to help a little & i’d told myself to get my arse in gear & get under 11 hrs. The downhills i could handle, i just let gravity do its thing & i even managed to overtake a few folk for the 1st time in ages! But i was still struggling with anything up or flat & i knew the last part was fairly flat. I was back on track if i could just stay away from walking. This is when i gave myself the smallest goals i’d ever given myself. Run to that gate you can do it (tick), run to the sheep, i can’t i’m goosed again, Run to the Fuckin Sheep! (tick), this went on for a while & eventually i’d see the house across the road that means i’m in Tyndrum, then i’d see the gate that leads to the holiday park that leads to the pipers & before you know it you’ve been running non stop for hundreds of meters & you can’t stop now because there’s people clapping & music playing & the red carpet has appeared & you see Tom & friendly faces & you can’t help but smile & soak it all in as you run down the red strip & cross the line 🙂 I finished in 10:48, which was 49 minutes quicker than last year. I was pleased with my time, but know that it could have been better if i could have managed my nutrition better towards the end. It’s all good experience & as long as i learn from it then i can’t ask more than that! Tom & Frances also went on to beat the times they’d set themselves. It’s amazing what journeys you go through with this running m’larky!! This year i’m also running the ‘Great Glen Ultra’ & the ‘CCC’ again & i’m trying to raise money for Parkinson’s UK, this will help lots of people with this disease including my brother – https://www.justgiving.com/Martin-Bell21/ If anyone out there can make even a small donation, it will be greatly appreciated. http://www.movescount.com/moves/move60347203 https://www.strava.com/activities/292809502
10 days after the Fling – recovered well, initially took 6 days off, back to normal running now. Thoughts on race – i think i was affected by the sun later in the race, i was expecting winter but ended up with blue skies & the sun beating down. I was stopping at streams to splash water over my face & head in the last 1/3rd & i don’t think i drank enough electrolytes, maybe worth trying salt tablets?? Also food for thought, have some milky ways for towards the end – a little gooey & should go down ok & Grapes would work really well throughout & more oranges!!