Meeting up with the WHW folks tonight, so I had to venture out at lunchtime for my Wednesday tempo run. 8-miles on the cards. Although it was a glorious sunny day (novel), I felt quite drained. My own fault really, as I only had a banana for breakfast - after four speed sessions in my legs. My head felt really airy (no comments please) and I found myself stumbling quite a bit. Kept up the pace, but had to stop for a few wee breathers. There were quite a few traffic lights that I didn't necessarily need to stop at. Finished my 7.6 mile west end route in 59.08 (which is 26 seconds off my PB) with an average pace of 7.52 (my pace for the 10K race on Saturday was 7.45). I did cheat a bit with a few breaks though. Think I might have to vary my tempo routes, as I'm now more focused on finished the route in a specific time, rather than focusing on the quality of the tempo in the middle.
And now on to the WHW pep-talk...well, my brain is well and truly pickled. So many do's and don'ts, conflicting experienced advice, scary medical chat and horror stories. I've decided I'm going to take it on board and just do what feels best for me. I'm not going to start clocking 180-mile weeks, eating tinned raspberries (?), fanatically weighing myself or running with a book shelf on my back, just because it has worked for some people. Seems like the field is split into "those who compete and those who complete". I'm definitely of the latter.
Here's how the night went: We arrived at Run and Become in Edinburgh at 7pm to meet up with race veterans, virgins, organisers, stewards, doctor and support crew. The whole family really. Everyone was really welcoming and friendly. Although people kept asking me if I was Marco's support! Pah!
The night opened with a chat from Adrian (runner, store owner and sponsor) and Dario (race organiser), followed by a inspirational and motivational talk from experienced runners, Ian and Murdo. All very nice and fluffy until the doc took to the "stage". The audience sat like startled rabbits as Dr Chris Ellis provided an overview of nasties and symptoms of potential dangers that all seemed to end with "...and you will be pulled from the race"
Thankfully the air was lifted with some light entertainment from duo-act Bobby Shields and Duncan Watson - the crazy runners who initiated the concept of running the full WHW. Watching the characters mocking and reminiscing was like watching Still Game's Jack and Victor. I'm not sure they even realised we were in the room until they were heckled from the crowd. They're a comical pair with all the patter. Purists that mock the regulations of the modern day race. Duncan commented: "one year I did in on three packets of dextrose and water from the burn" to which Bobby echoed: "Auch forget gels and camelbaks, digestive biscuits are what I carried". They must be horrified by today's pampered WHW runner: compression tights, dry-fit clothes, eight different types of shoes, gels, powder, hydration packs, GPS, gore-tex...the list goes on. They were the hardcore. They're legends. And don't even get them started on the newly restored path. Or motorway as Bobby called it.
Kate Jenkins, who held the ladies' record for four years explained her first race. Reading from a race report she scribed many years ago, we sat transfixed listening to the magic of her emotional tale and "life-changing experienced". She mentioned that she "loved the spirit of the West Highland Way. And it was that spirit that carried her". That's a statement I won't forget in the long time. She's an awe inspiring person. When her knees have finally packed in she should considering narrating. We were all gooey eyes by the end. I was half-expecting it to finish.."and then they saw the end of the Way sign and they all lived happily-ever-after".
The evening progressed (well past scheduled) with advice from an experienced support crew member and some information on food and drink from Adrian. I'm pretty much going to pack everything, as I've got no idea what I'll feel like. We packed enough to feed a family for month for the Devils, and I only ate a cereal bar and a handful of jelly babies.
It was a great evening and a fabulous introduction to what's ahead. Although "you don't know what it's like until you've done" was mentioned once or twenty-seven times. I don't feel either comforted or scared by being being more informed...just more prepared now.
Note to self 1) Organise briefing meeting with support team 2) Don't let Marco pack his racing shoes ;-)