Lochaber Marathon 2014

If you run out of ideas follow the road; you’ll get there

Edgar Allan Poe

(aka ‘the wet one’)

This post could read as a guide on marathon running without having followed any appropriate or recognised structured programme.  It’s all in the training so they say.  I hadn’t trained; at all.  Sometimes it all just clicks and you’ll breeze through.  The only thing clicking was A niggling Achilles injury should have ruled me out.  Enjoy the views.  The rain was Highland horizontal.  Smile at spectators.  Smile? SMILE! Do you know how much pain marathon runners go through?   Despite the omission of preparedness – stubbornness, selfishness and circumstance drove me north to take on the challenge.

Lochaber AC welcomed runners at the Nevis Centre in Fort William. Runners started to fill the hall, stretching, applying vaseline and packing up their energy gels.  A brief race instruction from the stage and then a polite, but brisk Scottish invite, “Right, get yoursels ootside on tae the shinty pitch – let’s get started”  Drizzle had already started on this cool, overcast Sunday morning.  A large proportion of runners wore bin bags as body warmers; some would even keep these on for the first few miles.  Most others huddled together with club mates.  All just wanted to get going.  I’d barely connected to the essential Rusky satellite somewhere over Crimea and we’d started.

The route basically heads out of Fort Bill for a mile then turns west along the A830 towards Glenfinnan and Loch Shiel.  At 13 miles the route reverses.  Some of the route is on footpaths although most shares the road space with other vehicles, including HGVs and campervans.  Just to state from the off that there is no issue with safety as drivers were very considerate.  Actually, I’d failed to recognise ANY traffic by the time we stepped from the footpath to the road (approx 5 miles) – I was so wet and busy trying to avoid the flowing rivulet at the road edge.  The views should have been good.Image

Taken the following day while on recovery mode

Miles 1-2: Jovial atmosphere, thanking marshals and generally chipper (av 8.15min/ miles)

Miles 3-7: Adapting to wearing showerproof jacket and wishing someone else would lead into the wet and wind (av 8.30min/ miles)

Miles 8-12: Worried about cold water from soaked shorts accelerating cramp in hamstrings (and still wishing others would lead in to the wet and wind)… High five with Dad who was already on his return (av 9.00min/ miles)

Miles 13-18: Buffeting side winds from south and driving rain.  Running solo. (av 9.00 min/ miles)

Miles 18-21: Bit more shelter.  Last energy gel.  Occasional run in pair.  Not much chat.  (av 9.15 min/ miles)

Miles 22-25: Gradual gradient rise over few miles really hard.  Also minor 0.2 mile detour up part canal broke rhythm.  Rain heavy. (av 10.15 min/ miles)

Mile 26: Straight into strong wind with some small rises.  Buggered.  Nothing left.  Knew a 9min/ mile would likely break the sub 4 milestone.  Head strong, but legs were battered.  Shuffled over the shinty field to the finish – 90 secs over the 4 hours (av 10.30).

Summary – excellent race, well organised and I’d definitely recommend as first marathon for any runner.  Firstly, no hustle and bustle of commercial marathons; second, amazing scenery and third, no flat, but too many sharp 90 degree turns that you’ll get on urban routes.  Overall – braw! Next time – sub 4 braw!!

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