‘I’ll let you go past, you like the downhills’.
Exactly. So why on earth was I running this race?!?
That morning my first task was to get myself there. It’s a small village I have been to many, many times so it should have been an easy task. I set my google maps on and was confident I could do this… until I drove past the village I thought I was going to and then, according to the map, past 3 signs that all clearly stated Milnathort this way (Milnathort being the destination). So after a quick tour of where a Scottish music festival used to be and an impromptu u-turn I eventually found it. Deep breath, it’s ok.
I collected my race number and joined the queue for the bathroom. All around me all I could hear was nervous chatter about the race. I wasn’t hearing or seeing the usual ‘look at me, I’m faster than Mo’ type runner, it was more ‘just hoping to finish’.
Then it was ‘its fine if you make it to mile 9.’
And hold on. It’s only 13 miles. 9 miles is two thirds of the way there!!
Good thing I was already in the queue for the bathroom that’s all I’m going to say.
Off to the start line and the same nervous chatter continues. I stuck to the back but I did hear them say they had accidentally ordered sparkling water instead of still for the finish. That’s if I finished of course.
Slow and steady, that was my plan. And I stuck to it. Or more accurately the hills made me stick to it. The first six were ok as it goes. I had the right trainers on (lesson 1) and the right socks on he right feet (lesson 2). I had eaten breakfast and I had drank a good amount. There were no head phones as it wasn’t closed roads – although I think a maximum of 2 cars went past the entire race – so I stared singing my 80’s ballads in my head. ‘Here I go again on my own, walking down the only road I’ve ever known’. Over and over that time went through my mind as I made my way through the country side.
I found myself following a woman from a local Tri club who was with a guy with an Ironman tattoo on his leg. I can only presume this was a training or recovery run for them or maybe they were coming back from injury, but, in that moment, yup, they were my competition. I think everyone plays this game. Picks someone out and uses them as their challenge. Helps to push you.
As I came down a steep part just after mile 5 I could see in front of me what can only be described as an actual mountain. My jaw dropped, my knees started to shake, I genuinely began to wonder how on earth I was going to get up it without proper climbing gear. Thankfully I saw the marshalls directing us left and not on to the monstrosity. I was saved! I joked with the marshalls as I went through and asked them where the taxi was that I had ordered.
They just laughed.
Probably because they knew what was coming.
If I thought the other mountain was steep then this was just down right vertical! I would love to know who chose this route. Saw this part and thought ‘yes, this would make an ideaL running route, slap a big mother f…. hill bang in the middle of it!’.
Sadists, the lot of you.
The song in my head quickly changed to ‘I’m just a sucker for pain’.
I did manage to run up the whole hill although I do use that term very, very loosely. A cup of water at the top was much needed and very appreciated (and thankfully not sparkling ha ha).
There were very occasionally downhill sections and I was able to speed up a little. I managed to pass Ironman and Tri Woman at these points but they always caught me up at the inclines. And there were not many downhills.
Mile 9. I need to keep going to mile 9. Just think of mile 9.
Onward and forever upward I kept going. The couple were still in my sights but only just. Despite the elevation it was still a nice place to be running. The sun started to come out as well and it soon heated up. Shorts and vest a good choice, well done Ella. I had been really worried it was going to be windy but there was just a slight breeze.
Eventually, after about 10 hours I think, I knew I was coming up to the sought after mile 9. Come on, keep going, keep running, you can do this. Of course it was still a 13 mile race but all thoughts of the last 4 miles just didn’t enter my brain at this point. It was mile 9 I had to get to and that was my achievement. So naturally, when I did, I took a photo of the sign, as you do.
It generally is downhill for the last 4 miles so I turned my attention to my watch and aiming to come in under 2 hours. Ironman and Tri Woman were still in front so I lengthened my stride to try and make up time. Slowly I caught up with them and just as I did a car came so we moved to go single file to let it past. ‘I’ll let you go past as you like the downhills’ she said. ‘It’s the only parts I can run!’ Was my reply. This did make me wonder why I hadn’t checked the details of this run before entering.
At 12.5 miles I heard someone coming up behind me and I thought to myself ‘damn it, they are going to over take me again’. By this point I couldn’t really be bothered with the cat and mouse game so just stayed at pace. It wasn’t them though. It was a fellow Perth Road Runner. And she didn’t just creep past me she sailed past me. What the…. Where did she come from?!? Are you kidding me? Speaking to her later on that night she told me she had been following me from early on. She must have done what I was doing with Ironman and Tri Woman. That will teach me ha ha.
Down the hill and round the corner and yup, you’ve guessed it, it was back UP hill to the finish. Seriously guys come on! Who puts the finish line up a hill?!? What is wrong with you!
Needless to say, no sprint finish. Just no.
I collected my medal and got a ‘well done’ from another road runner. He had finished at about the time I was at mile 9. There are no words for that! I checked my watch and was just thankful I was under the 2 hours – 1hr 56. I will take that.
Back to the car and I take my phone out for a photo only to discover the dye from my hair I had done the day before was now flowing down the side of my face and all over my shoulders. Yet another lesson. I should write a book of what not to do.
A tough route definitely. Character building? Well it was only yesterday so I’m still in the ‘don’t care, it was hard’ mindset. I’m sure it was good for me though. Maybe.