Tooting was supposed to be my last outing of the year. Well proper one. I've got some cross country to do and some other wee fun races but I had nothing else planned. Soon after Tooting and drinking many beers in the aftermath we had decided to go to watch the Dunoon ultra. I knew a few people running and I love taking the kids along to events like that so that they are getting to visit different parts of the country and be part of a positive event. About 5 days before the race, an opportunity presented itself for me to run the race. After running it past the boss she reluctantly agreed. I was pretty happy that I would get a chance to use some of my fitness tokens that I hadn't cashed in at Tooting. My race prep for this involved not drinking beer the night before the event, and a whatsapp recce of the course by some people I knew running it.
Saturday came and the weather forecast looked great. I got picked up about 5ish and got more route info on the way. On arriving at Dunoon pier we registered quickly. Thankfully there were toilets aplenty so that bit was hassle free. I had taken someone else place and transferred the entry which was very kind of the organisers. We jumped back into the van and drove the few miles to the race start. By this time the sun was just about up. It was pretty cold, about 2 degrees or so which changed my plan of shorts n vest. I went with a base layer and arm warmers, finished off with my UD race vest, my new Brewdog beer belly, and the Hoka one one Cavu.
These don't have a lot of grip on them but I knew it wouldn't have been too muddy with the recent weather. If it was wet I'd have had to wear trail shoes - problem was I currently didn't have any. Bob and I got a good warm up which involved 1 lap of the car park (I don't even think Bob went for this amazing routine) and some lunges.
The race start wasn't the usual. It was set off by a piper and a canon which made me almost need another toilet stop. But quickly we were off and I settled into a lead group of about 6 or so runners just under 7 min mile pace. The first mile is flat, and then the 2nd mile is into some stairs and some twists and turns which I churned out at 10:50 for the mile. I'm still a long way off from finding my hill legs and was dropped from the group. I was happy with my pace and just plundered along, see sawing with Roger Sangster who I've raced with a few times. There was a checkpoint about 8 miles or so in. I hadn't planned to use any of the check points for the race, but it was good to get a wee cheers from Chris and Neil who were up to support and take photos. After this checkpoint the route climbs up on the side of Loch Eck to just under 1000ft. I'm not one for looking at the scenery in races but by this time the morning fog was lifting and the view was immense. The race was worth doing this for alone.
What goes up must come down and what followed was one of the best descents in a race that I've done. I say this even though I got passed by 4 runners on it! Those Westies love the hills! I wasn't going all out and it was good to almost freewheel down to sea level before picking it back up on the flat. There was another check point and Reiah was there to high 5 me, and Mrs Shaw and the mad baby were there for another high 5. Always time for a high 5.
At this point it was halfway ish and I knew from my whatsapp recce that this was the place I was going to pick the pace up and hopefully pull a few people in. About half a mile or so later there was a massive puddle covering the path. The runner in front made the smart move of jumping onto the wee ledge and avoiding it. I followed suit however forgot to look where I was going and face planted right into the puddle. It was just about as deep as Lock Eck! It was a bloody sore fall - enough for the runner in front to stop and run back towards to help me. I knew there was no serious damage but I sat for a few minutes before limping on. I knew my race was pretty much over from then. I limped pretty much the full loch side - but being there no where else to go I didn't have a choice - and it's always fun to be out there running no matter what. I knew I hadn't caused any proper problems which would do me real harm so I was happy to carry on.
I tried to enjoy the rest of the race as much as I could. I was in and out of the last checkpoint in a couple of minutes, fuelled by a banana and some extra tailwind that Richie gave me. I hadn't planned for this but I'm glad I took it. I don't think I needed the calories but by this time of day it was starting to get really warm so I was glad of the extra fluid.
After this checkpoint I knew there was another last climb. A combination of how I was feeling and the heat made this tougher than it should have been. It was a brilliant climb up the fire type road to climb a little over 600 feet. I did seem higher than this, but again we were rewarded by magnificent views over the water. This was even better than before. The road swung round to the right and we appeared to be running away from Dunoon, which at this point in a race isn't good! But soon came the last descent and a mile along the sea front led to the finish line which was on the pier. This could be seen in the distance and certainly helps get the legs moving a bit quicker. Onto the pier and I got to see Reiah and Rouxi waiting on me. Wee Rouxi joined me to cross the line and Reiah waited at the side - probably knew I could take her in a sprint finish.
I crossed in 4:49 on 9th place. Not my best performance but it was a great days running along an amazing route, It was great to be supported again by family and friends taking their time to help us runners so we can have fun doing what we do. I certainly couldn't do it without my girls. It's good to be pushed further by better runners and I hope at one point I'll be back at this race to compete.
As everyone knows - I love finish lines. They are the best part of the sport. This one was as good as always. Bobs family all there to support him crossing the line and seeing the achievement people get from getting there will always inspire me. Chris (Lomond Photography - ran the Devil O the Highlands this year and forgot to tell people) managed to capture some moments perfectly throughout the day which he summed up better than my writing in this video - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0s1oK7yQdfk well worth a watch. That's my ultra racing done for this year. I'll be back next year for more fun!
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