I decided to wait a couple of days before writing this. You will soon see why.
I actually felt really good coming into this marathon. The training had been less ardous than when I was training for Callanish and I didn’t put any pressure on myself really. I knew I was in PB shape, but just wasn’t sure by how much.
Got an early train up to Inverness on the Saturday (which was fully of football fans), but had booked seats so everything was fine. Had friends on the train, so it was actually a lovely journey up.
Ended up heading off with Marie (bengalcatwoman) and her hubby Ashley to get lunch as we were staying in the same street, so once we had eaten we strolled to her B&B. I could not check in until later, so they kindly offered to store my suitcase and then we all headed off to the Expo so I could pick up my number.
A lot of my friends were there and I met just about all of them. Was lovely to see everyone. There was an air of nervous excitement. Quite a few friends were doing their first marathon. Managed to do a spot of retail therapy without racking up a massive credit card bill, which I was pretty proud of, then headed back and finally got checked into my B&B once I’d collected my case.
The person who had been staying in the room before me had disappeared in the night leaving all his stuff, so I was advised that he still had a key and to put something up against my door that night. Didn’t feel that bothered about this at the time, but it didn’t make sleep easy when it did come to getting some shut eye.
Maz was staying close by too, so we hooked up, bought some food and headed round to one of the appartments where some of our other friends were staying so we could cook and eat. Dinner was tortellini with a sauce and margaritta pizza :). Stayed for a while, but eventually decided I needed to get myself organised for the morning, so there were a flurry of hugs before I left and wandered back to my B&B.
I got everything out I needed and filled up my hydration pack so that I didn’t have to do much in the morning. Really wanted to minimise faffing around as I’m not really a morning person. Then it was time to call it a night. Every time I heard the slghtest noise I woke up but eventually I think I got some sleep by the time I was rudely awakened by my alarm at 5.30am.
No idea how much actual sleep I got, but I had my porridge and banana and got myself ready. Met Maz and we wandered round to the start together. As soon as we got near the park, we met up with more of our friends; Naomi (Metro_Nome), Shona (Holburnmum), Lyndsay and Shona (shondo). We all ended up getting on the same bus, so it was nice to have the company. The busses leave early in the morning and there is a long convoy out to the start which is in the middle of nowhere. It was quite warm already, so I was starting to get a little worried about the heat. I was very thankful that I’d taken my hydration pack.
First thing I did when I eventually got off the bus was head for the toilet queue. There were some portaloos by the bus drop off and by the time we had stood in this queue for a while we were told there were other toilets nearer the start. Fearing that the queue there would be just as bad if not worse, I stayed put, which was the right decision. It meant that I still managed to go before the start, but I didn’t have to hang around for too long.
Did not have long to wait until we were off. The start of the course is downhill and it is really difficult not to get too carried away and go too quickly at the start. I do know better, but I felt fantastic. My asthma has not been great recently and my medication has been changed, it seems for the best. My breathing was easy and I felt on top of the world. I was slightly concerned that it was starting to get quite warm.
The scenery on the route is nothing short of spectacularly beautiful. You don’t always see it if you are driving which is why I enjoy running. As I’m not very fast I get to look around me. I managed to slow my pace and soon met up with another runner who was going around the same speed as me so I stuck with her. It was nice to have someone to talk to. Had to use the portaloo just before 4 miles, where we moved into a more sheltered part of the course surrounded by the trees which was a welcome break from the heat.
Felt fine through the first 10k and was still feeling fine at mile 10. Not quite sure what happened after that, but I started to get tired and fed up. The route although net downhill is actually quite undulating. It’s tough on the quads going downhill and then on the calfs going up. I had no idea how I was going to get through another 16 miles. Thankfully having the company meant that getting to half way wasn’t so bad. Then at least I knew I had less to go that I’d already done.
I tried to take my mind off things by looking and the scenery and keeping chatting with my run buddy Gemma and trying to keep positive as she was also starting to struggle. I pretty much kept my thoughts to myself. This was starting to get a lot harder than I’d imagined. I could so my chances of a good time slipping away, and as the miles ticked slowly by I knew there would be no chance of a PB. There was also no doubt that we were getting slower. I was struggling to run but kept trying, even if it was for 20 steps or so. Mainly just to make sure that my legs could still move.
It seemed to take forever to get from half way to Dores. I knew this part of the course had a hill and I also knew from Callanish, that these are the miles where I struggle. There was more power walking or whatever I could manage trying to jog downhill just so could let gravity assist me. Missed a portaloo so had to nip across behind a bush to answer the call of nature.
Thankfully we got through the miles and they didn’t seem as quite as bad. I’d been trying to post on facebook about how bad I was feeling but thankfully I’d had signal issues, but by mile 22 I was quite happy to let the world know how much of a rubbish time I was having. At this point I also knew the course and knew that I was not far from civilisation.
I forged ahead to make another stop at the last set of portaloos at mile 23 and then I had no choice but to go on alone. I simply had to get this done for my own sanity and the quicker the better. I told Gemma I would wait for her at the end and pushed on with whatever strength I could muster. The only thing that was keeping me going was the messages which were appearing on facebook and messenger. All I wanted to do was sit down and cry, but again my friends were coming up trumps and their words of encouragement were pushing me ever onward.
By this time though I was travelling at what seemed was a snails pace and the roads were being opened up, but there were still folks cheering and shouting their support for which I was very grateful. Eventually I reached the banks of the River Ness. For the first time in miles I knew I would make it now as there was just over 2 miles to go. I’d been trying to convince myself I could, but now there was no doubt. There were lots of folks supporting here from their beer gardens and soon I crossed the bridge, again to lots of support and cheers from folks enjoying some alcoholic beverages.
Most of the supporters had left by now, but everyone who saw me cheered and offered encouragement. I couldn’t stop crying as people were so kind. I got a hug from Maz around the 26 mile point as she was walking back up and she told me the rest of the gang were waiting for me at the finish, so I pushed on. Soon I could here them all shouting for me. I pushed on as much as I could over the finish line.
I think I cried – again. My official time was 7:35:44 which was 25 minutes slower than Callanish. By this point I don’t think I cared, I was just glad to be finished. I was given my medal and went off to collect my goody bag and again lots of support from the marshals and helpers.
Met up with everyone and got my photo taken and there were lots of hugs and most probably some more tears. I never, ever, ever wanted to do that again. It was hard, actually no it was horrific. I wandered back towards the bridge with my friends and they headed off to get ready for some celebratory drinks, but I just stopped and spoke to people and I waited.
Eventually my running buddy came into sight accompanied by her husband. She was hurting too. I waited and walked with her to near the finish then stood back and let her go on. We’d both finished.
I chatted to the marshals for a while, let my hubby know I was finished and okay then headed back to my B&B for a shower. ad arranged to go for dinner with my best fiends folks, but we decided that they would pick me up and we would get a takeaway. There was also a matter of champagne. I didn’t get the result I wanted, but I had finished, so I was drinking the champagne.
Ended up being a bit of a late night but lovely to catch up. My poor feet were a bit of a mess and my legs were aching, but a little better in the morning. Had a really relaxed breakfast with other folks who had also run. There were folks from as far away as the USA and Australia at the guest house, so it was really nice to hear everyone’s experiences.
Soon it was time to head home and then in the evening we all went to jogscotland to show off our medals and treat ourselves with chips. No running was done by any of the people who had completed the marathon.
Today my feet are looking a bit more like their normal size, but my quads are still pretty mashed up. Stairs are interesting and if I have been sitting too long my walk looks like a cross between a John Waye swagger and that of a demented penguin!
I have also got some tough decisions to make as to what’s next. On the day I said never again and I truly meant it. However now that the dust has settled a little, I do feel that I have a score to settle, but not just yet.
I would like to thank everyone who has supported me as well as all the organisers and marshals on the day who were brilliant and the spectators who kept me going. Best message award has to go to Myles who told me “stop whinging, stop texting, dig in, smile and cross that line. It’s about the medal. Screw the time.” I actually laughed when I read that at mile 25 🙂
I’m also really proud to say that I’ve raised £338.75 (including Gift Aid) for the Gathimba Edwards Foundation. Thank you wonderful people xxx