Updated: Sep 9, 2018
Glenmore 24 2016
The first Sunday in September 2015. It is a day as disappointment for me, feelings of failure and emptiness and what could have been. I had just finished Glenmore 24 with a distance of 90 miles. Well short of what I had been looking for. I knew I had to improve for the next year. I told Theresa my plan. For the next full year not a day passed when this years race didn't pass through my thoughts. Every time I laced up my trainers, every time I was tired and couldn't be bothered, everytime the alarm went off at 0440 for a run in the dark before work, I was at the start line of Glenmore. I had to better myself.
2nd September 2016
The car is packed. I have all my clothes with me that I could need during the race no matter the weather. We arrive at the Hayfield about 1500 hours. Set up camp quickly thanks to some kind helpers, and the horde of midges start. Not as bad at the West Highland Way, so I can cope. I constantly go through the race in my head. I know how I'll feel and I'm getting into the frame of mind. My pace plan is worked out to the minute and I go over and over it. Im going over and over in my head that it is an eating competition, with a bit of running involved. For those who dont know me, eating is my downfall and the last quarter of races is usually a death march for me due to this. Not this time i tell myself.Soon Andrew Crichton arrives who we are also supporting this weekend and we spend some time chatting the usual pre race stuff.2200 hours and it is bed time. No party for me this year!! I toss and turn but get a good sleep until 8am.
A pint of porridge for breakfast (we didn't have any bowls) and then I wander about. I bump into Davie Gow who convinces me to go off slightly faster than I had planned. I agree it's a better idea. Back to the tent, tell the boss my plan and I munch down 2 potato scones and a tin of beans. Changed into my running gear of inov8 race ultras, injinji socks, under armour under shorts, runing shorts and my Dumbarton vest. A few wee yoga moves and its time to go to the start line.
I line up at the front alongside Euan MacMillan who I know and who is doing to 12 hour race. I know he is going a similar pace to me to begin with so I plan to stay beside him. The horn goes and I take the first step of many. I settle into my pace of around 8:30 per mile average. I dont find it easy to run this slow but it will pay off in the 2nd half. The miles pass easily to begin with. Before I know it I am approaching my first marathon. Just under 4 hours as planned. At this point im in lead position after passing 2 runners after about 16 miles. Im not fazed by this but it is good to know. Im not bothered about a gap behind me. Id ran all the hills to this point. There is about 300ft of gain in the 4 mile loop, but so far so good.
Into the 2nd marathon and I am eating well. Im picking up food each lap and stopping on the 3rd lap for a 5 minute break of stuffing my face with food. Im trying to go as natural as possible with my food. Bananas, dates, raisins and nuts are the order of the day, plus 200 ml of tail wind per lap. Ive made some rice pudding which is doing the trick also. The miles pass uneventfully. Ive passed Andy but not seen him again. It would be good to see a familiar face to share some miles with, but onwards i go. Each lap i ask how he is and pass messages to him through theresa. Seeing Theresa each lap gives me good energy and she is doing a great job of looking after me and making sure I fuel properly. I find myself at 52 miles in 8 hours and 18 minutes. I start to struggle here and I hit a real low point. I dont know why because I am running well, eating great and have very little fatigue. I wanted to give up for more than an hour. Its a long hour, but I try and remind myself why I am here. I grind on and on and on and I know it will pass. A crushing low is always followed by an enjoyable high. I think this is mostly due to me worrying about Theresa because she is still on her own and Chris hasnt shown up.
During a low point
Darkness falls and I get my head torch on. I love running at night. The low has passed and my first lap in darkness is awarded by a surge of energy through my full body. Its like jolts of energy going directly to my legs. Unfortunately my headtorch doesnt feel the same and goes to sleep before the 1st lap is done! No big deal and its changed for another one as I see Chris has arrived to support so I settle down.
I get an update that the guy in 2nd is only 30 mins behind me. By this time im not wanting passed so I decide to put a move in and try and lap him. I pick up the pace as much as I can, but keep it below suicide pace for the time being. Still early days to be burning out! The laps pass and pass and I still dont see anyone who I haven't already passed. I begin to wonder if Theresa is making this elusive runner up. She often tells me what I need to hear rather than the truth. Good plan! However my faith is in her completely so I push on and on and on. I feel like my legs are starting to hurt as I approach 100 miles.
Going through 100 miles
17 hours and 56 minutes and Im through 100 miles and met by the sound of the horn. This is an enormous milestone for me. I feel a great sense of relief more than any other feeling. The 100 mile monkey is finally off my back, but im aware that it now has a target on it that people are aiming for. Im pleased with my pacing, 4 minutes infront of my intended pace. Things are going well.
Into the forest I run again, chasing whatever light I see infront of me and ticking off the miles. I listen intently for the horn, too see if there is indeed a runner behind me so close. I dont hear it. The forest is silent so im sure id have heard it. Or my mind is playing tricks on me. A relay runner passes me and I seek assurance from her that no one else is through 100 miles. 'The horn has went twice' she tells me.
I push on, threatening suicide pace. There is a long way to go. Another lap concludes and I apologise to Theresa. "Im giving everything I have" and "if he catches me thats me done" is what i tell her. I could cry. Ive had about 8 hours of solid effort to try and catch the elusive 2nd place. Why cant I catch him? If he sees me first I know he wins. The psychological blow would be too much for my now tiring legs to take. Im beginning to feel bogged down and heavy, not helped by the disappointment I feel id heap on Theresa if I was now to lose. (This obviously isnt true but its how i feel at the time) she tells me Stevie is arriving about 7am to cheer me on.
Im not letting him come all this way to see me lose in the last few hours. I constantly repeat things to my self - It's my race to lose. How bad do you want it. In 10 hours will you wish you put in more effort? I bound on and on. I say out loud 'suffer now' over and over, willing my legs to continue. Another lap passes and 2nd place is still 20 mins behind. Unbelievable. What do I have to do? Stevie has now arrived and he wills me on. Each lap im buzzed by the people in the hayfield cheering. Each runner I pass again spurs me on with their kind words, and I try and give something in return.
Daylight is here. Im wearing black and red, proud to be wearing the club colours. I hate racing without these colours. At the end of one of my laps stevie tells me 2nd place is 2 minutes in front. Yesss!! I can catch him. If I lap him I know im winning. Into camp, im told he doesnt stop. I refuel stopping for 3 minutes. He is now 5 in front. Off i go. Running all the hills. Pushing on. Where is he? Another lap nears an end. He is 90 seconds in front. Next lap. I stop again. Force a banana down, which replies by a brutal vomit which lasts about 5 minutes. Im not worried. Im well used to running and spewing. 7 mins in front. Another lap. 2 in front. He doesnt stop. I do. 5 mins in front. Another lap. 2 mins. He doesnt stop. Again i do, taking on food. How can iI be putting so much time into him only to fall short on each lap? Little do I know, he is stopping each lap with a crew member watching me, making sure he starts to move before me. What a move!! Why didnt we think of that? Top effort. Another lap passes. Time is ticking away. I get into camp, eat something. They have spotted him!! He is stopped, getting a massage. But not for long. I make chase. I run the hills. I know if im running at this stage im moving faster than most. Hopefully. Suffer now!!! Out loud again. Half a mile left. I spot Stevie. He jumps up and down, turns around and does a dance! 2nd place is just in front. I see him and finally catch up with the elusive Ross Grieve. What a moment. We shake hands, congratulate each other with a hand shake and hug, and walk through the start line together. 124 miles. Its now half 10.
The hayfield is now open for laps. 400m loops. I trudge on slowly now. Walking and running when I can. Counting down the minutes. My legs arent working so well now. 2 minutes to go and I put my peg beside the tent. Chris has headed off. Stevie shakes my hand. I see Theresa and I could cry im so happy for her. Running a good race for her is a small thing to repay her for everything she does for me. She puts more effort into my running than I do at times. I get a cuddle and then I lie on the ground.Its over. 130 miles. A year in the making. Im so relieved and happy for Theresa that we finished first. Im glad for Stevie coming all that way. Im thankful to Chris for helping feed me and making the effort. A real team sport. My role in running is a small part in the weekend. The win and my race going to plan is mostly down to others, and im happy for them. In many ways it was a first. My first 100 mile run, my first win, my first race where I fuelled and ran as planned. I can rest easy now. Until next time...