‘The Highland Fling’

fling

Well where to start?

I suppose my training plan is a good a place as any 2014 Fling Training Plan For 17 weeks i’d been building what would hopefully be a solid start to the years running, with the Fling as the 1st real test. The training had gone relatively well with only a couple of minor hiccups along the way (& a cold right at the end, that cleared with about a day spare!).

Kit preparation consisted of stuff i needed & stuff i shouldn’t have bothered with. I always seem to take more than i need, it’s good to be prepared for any conditions (the forecast was grimm), but did i really need to take a waterproof, windshirt & windvest? No not really seeing as though i started in my Inov 8 waterproof expecting the heavens to open & after about mile 4, ran the remaining 49 miles with just a t shirt.

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My choice of kit was : Shoes : North Face Hyper Track Guides – great shoes that i can run for miles in with no problems at all. Socks : I normally wear Icebreaker or Smartwool but due to the heavy rain in the preceding days i opted for Drymax which worked well.  Shorts : North Face Better Than Naked – super light, breathable & comfy (very important!). T Shirt : Marathon Talk 26.2 – just because. Waterproof : Inov 8 Race Elite 150 Stormshell – nice & light with a big zip for venting, but not needed in the end due to the weather forecasters being about as much use as a chocolate teacup! Pack : Salomon Skin Pro 10 + 3 – i like to run with a bladder & this pack is hardly noticeable when on & doesn’t bounce about & you can fit plenty of gear in it (too much in my case). Watch : Suunto Ambit 2S – great watch & tells you everything you need to know, but make sure you change the settings before a LONG run or like me you’ll find the battery dying before you’ve finished (my fault but i had had a lot on my mind in the days before the race).

I’d booked a room at the Premier Inn Bearsden for the night before & after, which was ideal. Right next to the Burnbrae which is where you needed to register & only a short walk to the start (thankfully the coach driver on return went out of his way to drop us off opposite the Burnbrae, as that short walk would have seemed a LOT further had we had to walk it after the race).

Race morning started with my alarm going off at 4am, duly followed by me eating my porridge in a pot along with a banana, not my usual pre long run fueling but i doubted i’d talk anyone into cooking me a full English at 4am. En Route to the start i followed a small group of fellow runners, they then stopped looking around as to which way to go & i thought ‘i hope this isn’t a sign of things to come’, as we hadn’t made the start line yet, but we soon figured it out. I met up with Des Rhule at the start line, who also works for Ellis Brigham, but in the Covent Garden store. We wished each other luck & got ready to go.20140426_053256

 

Drop Bags : I’d chosen to use 2 drop bags at Rowardennan (27 miles) & Beinglas (41 miles). I think i got this spot on, i skipped the 1st drop point at Balmaha & munched on the snacks i was carrying (trail mix). By Rowardennan i was in need of some variety of food & needed to sit for a few minutes. Inversnaid i refilled with water (again sat for a few minutes) & grabbed a Milky Way & by the time i got to Beinglas i was in need of my mix of food & a greatly appreciated coffee from a marshal.

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My plan for the race was #Finish #Enjoy it #Don’t get an injury. I’d given myself split times for completing it in 11hr 55mins, having never done the race or any of the sections before i’d worked out that this time should be possible for the shape i’m in.

So i started with the aim of getting to Drymen in 1hr 58. After about 4 miles i spotted Keith Ainslie up ahead, i’d never met Keith before but i recognized him from Facebook posts & thought ‘he’s done this race before & knows what he’s doing so don’t bloody pass him!’ At about mile 6 Des passed us (somewhere near the distillery). Keith pointed out a few points on the route & gave some good tips, run 50/walk 50 amongst others.

Conic Hill Drymen

 

He nailed his ‘Fling Kick’ (courtesy of ‘Monument Photo’s) at the top of Conic Hill. Other Photo approaching Drymen, which we reached in 1hr 55. Keith had mentioned that last year he’s finished just over the 11hr mark & i thought it best if i stick to my plan & race my race, so at mile 21 i watched him slowly disappear into the distance. At mile 24 i was surprised to catch up with Des who was obviously going through a bad spell, i tried a few words of encouragement & he said keep going, so off i went, i hoped he was ok & could continue but i was also slightly buoyed by the the fact i’d passed him & it gave me an extra spring in my step. (He pulled through his bad spell & persevered to a good finish, well done Des).

My next target on my projected splits i’d given myself was to reach Rowardennan in 5hr 11. I arrived in 4hr 49 feeling ok & knowing i was ahead of target sat down for a few minutes & started to devour my drop bag. I had a wee chat with Bill Heirs who was waiting to do his relay section.

The route between Rowadennan & Beinglas was like nothing i’ve ever ran before, from scrambling up narrow paths next to the Lochside to tree routes mixed with boulders & paths that wind up & down & what seemed like round & round! Saying that, i did quite enjoy it! In fact i’d been enjoying the whole race 🙂 Everyone i’d met had a smile on their face, the Marshals at the checkpoints were encouraging everyone & the weather had turned out to be perfect (overcast & the occasional drizzle kept you at the perfect temperature). It was somewhere in this section that my Suunto ran out of battery (thanks to me not changing the settings!) I’d normally get pretty hacked off at this, but for some reason it didn’t bother me, in fact i was quite impressed that instead of totally dying, it had cut the GPS function & saved 3% battery life so the watch function would still last for hrs & knowing when i started, i could easily figure out if i was still roughly on target. At the end of the day, the weather was good & i was out enjoying a nice run, somewhere i’d never been before, i was having a good day!

I arrived at Inversnaid & John Kynaston was at hand to help supply water for my bladder & find me a Milky Way! My legs were certainly feeling tired at this point, but after 34 miles i guess that’s pretty normal?

Inversnaid

So off i set for Beinglas, feeling tired but happy with how things were going, i wasn’t injured, my feet weren’t sore, so onwards & upwards. My projected time for arriving at Beinglas was 8hr 53 & i reached it in 8hr 36. I sat for a few minutes again, ate some of my drop bag & had a welcome cup of coffee from a helpful Marshal who every now & again would slightly deafen me by calling out a runners number as they approached the checkpoint. I set off knowing that i was within my target time & was content with whatever time i got, i didn’t feel a need to push myself to the point of not enjoying my experience (which is a nice feeling). When i set off though i realised my legs had seized up from sitting down, so off i set with a slow walk that slowly turned into a shuffle. As i shuffled along i got chatting to someone i’d sold his running shoes to & as we waffled away, we heard someone call out ‘wrong path’! Thankfully we hadn’t gone too far & we rejoined the correct path before it had gone horribly wrong! I had a good few conversations with fellow runners, one called ‘Stevie’ & another who i didn’t catch his name but every time he put his jacket on it stopped raining, which brought me much amusement 🙂 They both went on to finish before me & good for them, it was good to see people exceeding their personal targets.

The last 3 miles, even though they were relatively flat, were pretty hard going, it was here i wished my GPS was still working so i knew how far i still had to go? Within the last mile i must have asked 6 or 7 people ‘how far to the finish?’, & i got a mixed bag of answers from 700 metres to 3k! I knew i was close but it was tough going. The finish was almost there, just a few more bends & then i was passed by a couple of guys, i thought right stick behind them & nail it down the finish, only problem was i ran out of fuel & the nailing part just wasn’t happening, as i watched them speed up & finish strongly, but good for them, they did well & i was more than happy with what i’d achieved, finishing in 11hr 37 min.

The finish line by the way was fantastic with pipes being played & everyone lined up cheering you on. Before you know it you have a medal round your neck, a goody bag in hand & your’e sat eating baked tattie & some wonderful tomato soup whilst catching up with Bill Heirs listening to tails of wonder with a beer in hand!

Finish

What a race! Fantastic organisation from John Duncan & all of the volunteers. I’ve already worked out my time for next year 🙂 Bring it on!!

2014 Fling ULTRA Results (provisional)

A well deserved feast afterwards & the ‘Goody Bag’

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Why was it there were no streams to run through After ‘Cow Poo Ally’? Yet there were loads before it??

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During the race i drank 1.5lt of water with Electrolytes, 1.5 lt of water mixed as a protein shake, about 250ml of plain water & a cup of coffee. I ate a couple of Babybels, a packet of ready salted crisps, a small packet of Ritz biscuits, 2 small Milky Ways, an Apple, a Banana, 2 small oranges, a small Snickers bar, about 7 shot blocks & approx 200 grams of trail mix.

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martin55bell’s profile – Member at Movescount.com

martin55bell’s profile – Member at Movescount.com.

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Glen Ogle 33

logo[1]After spending the night at a friend’s house in Dunblane, I had a short drive to Immervoulin campsite to register.

I had spent a while deciding on shorts or tights, as I much prefer running in shorts but due to the forecast & my dislike of freezing my nuts off, I decided on tights.

Upon arriving at the campsite I saw a few familiar looking faces & had a quick hello with Bill at registration. The runners all looked a bit on the chilly side & pretty much ready to get moving, so after a race brief, we all set off across the road to the start.

I was pleasantly surprised with a hill start & thought to myself ‘take it easy, it’s a long way’, so off I went in the middle of the pack. Lots of folk were walking the uphill, but I shuffled up determined not to start with a walk, things were going well & I’d warmed up a little.

At about mile 7 John Duncan appeared at my side & as i’d been wanting to ask a question or two about next years ‘Fling’, I ran the next few miles with him, I did feel slightly overdressed compared to his shorts & vest, whilst I had my tights, long sleeved top, windshirt, hat & gloves on! After a while I told him I was going to ‘ease off’ a little & watched him slowly disappear into the distance.

My grand plan had been reach 1/2 way running approx 9 min miles, then see how i felt & finish strong, well that plan went out the window! By mile 15 i was feeling the cold (partly due to having Raynaud’s) & struggled with the ups & downs that the next few miles threw at me. By this point the weather was getting colder, wetter & windy. It was at about mile 21 i decided it was time to lose the windshirt & get out the waterproof jacket (what’s the point of carrying it if i wasn’t going to use it?), so i stopped running & thought ‘let’s get this changed quickly & take on some food & get a shift on’ as i’d realized i’d been slowing down for the past few miles. That’s not how it panned out 😦 Firstly i stood there in disbelief as i couldn’t even unclip the straps from my pack! My hands were like blocks of ice! I eventually managed to remove my pack to then struggle with the zip, after plenty of fannying around i was wearing a waterproof, then came several minutes to change ONE glove before i gave up & put the pack back on & in rather a bad mood continued to run. It felt like torture at this point & the one new glove i had put on was soaked within about a minute.

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I couldn’t get any food into me due to fingers that seemed to be frozen solid & i realised later that i hadn’t eaten since mile 16, so i was the coldest & wettest that i’d ever been & running on empty.

I knew that at the last checkpoint i had my bag with my winter waterproof full on mitts waiting for me & it was a case of telling myself survive till then & get some warmth back in my hands. I reached the checkpoint after having been following 3 other runners for the last mile or 2, they ran on (& finished 7 min quicker) & i struggled to open my bag & change gloves. I remember trying for a couple of minutes to get a single shotbloc into my mouth & failed miserably & headed off thinking ‘it’s only another 10kish’.

In the last few miles i remember someone asking how i was doing & i couldn’t even speak, my face & mouth had frozen, leaving me trying to mutter ‘how much further?’ I forgot to mention in my effort to get my mitts on, i’d pressed a button on my Garmin that meant i had no idea how far i was, Man it was depressing!

After cursing to myself on the last few ups & downs near the end, a guy at the side of the road said ‘only 100 meters to go’ & all i could think of was ‘lift your f***ing legs up & smile, there’s a camera somewhere!’

I crossed the line in 5hr 4min, was handed my goody bag & headed straight to the car, shaking like i’ve never shaken before. It took about 30 mins to get changed in the back seat with my body going into spasm. After putting on as much dry clothing as i could, i headed off to eat the best soup imaginable followed by several rolls & coffee & i felt alive again 🙂 I had a chat with another runner whilst drinking my free 1/2 pint, wearing my medal with a smile on my face.

I was already thinking of my next race, pain is temporary after all 🙂

Very Cold Very Wet

Very Cold Very Wet

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It’s time to di…

It’s time to dig deep and keep moving

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